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American Shipper

European ports lobby ESPO re-elects Gallanti as chairman

European ports lobby ESPO re-elects Gallanti as chairman

   The general assembly of the European Sea Ports Organization, a Brussels-based lobby group, Wednesday re-elected Giuliano Gallanti as its chairman for another two years.

   “This is a great honor and a task to which I look forward with great anticipation. But it is also an important responsibility, given the reflection process that we have started with the European Commission and all stakeholders on the future policy for our seaports in Europe,” Gallanti said just after the assembly meeting at the ESPO annual luncheon, attended by 160 representatives of the European Parliament, member states, the EC and stakeholder groups.

   At the beginning of the year, the European Parliament overwhelmingly rejected for the second time in less than two years, the European Union’s Port Package II designed to end monopolies on cargo handling by terminal companies, and to permit shipping firms to appoint independent contractors to load and unload vessels.

   At the time, dockworkers across Europe protested against the draft bill, with 24-hour strikes and thousands joining a march in Strasbourg outside the EU Parliament building, which descended into chaos with violent clashes.

   Gallanti expressed satisfaction over the consultation process since initiated by EC Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot to find an acceptable alternative policy.

   “The open and frank debate we have had so far shows there is considerable goodwill to achieve results, even on tricky issues like port services and the role of port authorities, port financing, sustainable port development and social matters,” said Gallanti.

   He added that the development of a meaningful European port policy was the priority of his new mandate but warned about the potential damaging effect of over legislating.

   “A business sector generally performs much better when it is encouraged and stimulated, rather than being told what to do. The challenging task ahead is to clarify how the rules of the European Treaty apply to our industry without trying to establish a ‘one size fits all’ policy,” Gallanti said.

   Guest speaker at the luncheon meeting was Paolo Costa, Chairman of the Committee on Transport and Tourism of the European Parliament. Costa said that “better services from ports are extremely needed in Europe, now and even more in the future. A greater quantity of goods will come and leave Europe by sea. We must be sure that a fair amount of competition between ports at each point in time and within each port through periodical competitive tendering will help in reducing transport costs in Europe.”

   ESPO’s general assembly also elected Maria Nygren, from Ports of Sweden, and Victor Schoenmakers from the Port of Rotterdam to vice chairmen, as well as deciding to open up membership to ports from countries neighboring the EU.

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