ANNUAL REPORT 2006-2007
Foreword by Giuliano Gallanti,
Chairman of ESPO
It is my pleasure to introduce this Annual Report which covers the period mid-2006 to mid-2007.
This is the first Annual Report ESPO produces in co-operation with the Institute of Transport and Maritime Management Antwerp (ITMMA). I am particularly grateful to Theo Notteboom and Bert Vernimmen of the Institute who have meticulously prepared the market analysis section of this document. You will find it contains a comprehensive and practical overview of the major developments and trends in the different market segments of European ports. It furthermore provides clear insight in the policy implications for European port authorities and thus makes the link with the work of ESPO which is described in the second part of the report.
The co-operation with ITMMA, which took effect in May 2006, was inspired by the need to ensure that policymakers have the essential insights in the complex mechanics of our sector. At a time when the European Commission is planning to map out a comprehensive policy for seaports, this cannot be overestimated.
I believe ESPO should generally make better use of the wealth of European know-how on port-related matters to complement its lobby work. At the same time ESPO could also develop a catalyst role in the field of port knowledge and expertise, which today is very much scattered around Europe. We are currently exploring ways to give this concrete shape and you will no doubt hear more about our plans during the coming year.
The changes that drive seaports progress at such a speed that well-intentioned policy initiatives can be totally outdated by the time they are implemented. The port services� Directive, which was the direct result of the 1997 Green Paper of Commissioner Kinnock, is a case in point. During the 10 years that elapsed between the publication of the Green Paper and the withdrawal of the Directive, the sector has changed so much that it would be difficult to fit it in some of the proposals developed years ago.
We want to prevent a similar scenario happening with the EU ports policy that is currently taking shape. This is why we are advocating a flexible approach. By limiting legislative intervention, we believe it will be easier for Europe to find an appropriate and adaptable policy framework for our diverse and dynamic port industry. As you will read further in the policy section of this report, we believe the essential way forward consists of a mixture of instruments that provide guidance and clarification (so-called "soft law"), stimulate best practice and review legislation where necessary.
Finally, I am very pleased that over the past year we managed to close a partnership with our colleagues of the European Federation of Inland Ports. Given that the interests of inland and maritime port authorities increasingly coincide, I am convinced it will strengthen the overall representation of European ports in Brussels.
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