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European ports ask EC to reconsider new port liberalization proposal

European ports ask EC to reconsider new port liberalization proposal

   The European Sea Ports Organization, a Brussels-based port lobby group, has asked the European Commission to reconsider its plan to issue a directive proposal in the next few weeks to liberalize port services in the European Union.

   Citing the failure of the previous EC directive to get approval from the European Parliament last November, the European Sea Ports Organization urged the commission to stop preparations on a new directive proposal on market access to port services. “Instead, we would advise the commission to take the necessary time for reflection and consultation on what is actually needed in terms of a supportive EU policy framework for European seaports,” the European Sea Ports Organization said in an open letter to all EC commissioners dated Oct. 4.

   The European commissioner for transport and energy, Loyola de Palacio, recently said a new legislative proposal would appear before Nov. 1. The failed first directive proposal, issued by the EC in February 2001, “created a great deal of controversy in the port sector which was partly due to a lack of prior consultation with the industry,” the European Sea Ports Organization said.

   The ports organization represents more than 800 seaports in all countries of the European Union, as well as ports in Bulgaria, Iceland and Norway.

   Submitting a new proposal without extensive consultation of the sector would only aggravate tensions, it argued. “We understand that the commission would adopt a more dogmatic approach on some of the substantial improvements that were made by council and parliament to the first directive proposal,” the European Sea Ports Organization added.

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