On October 8th, the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council within the Council of the European Union discussed the draft regulation on financial transparency and access to the market of port services. Designed to replace the previous Directive after a low-case loss and to contribute to more transparency, investments and quality in port services, it also raised a number of issues. They relate to security, public services traditionally delivered by ports, and not least – the social cost of allowing new operators to bring own rules in the labor market. Therefore, this regulation has become another “hot potato” for the European institutions.
From the very beginning the ETF accentuated the need for social protection of port workers and for a more flexible approach in the very different ports in Europe. Most of its demands were taken into account and incorporated into the draft, albeit not strongly enough. The joint efforts of the Federation and the International Dockworkers Council for greater social guarantees continue.
Now, the Council of EU itself mitigates the rules and empowers both States and ports to determine the conditions under which they will open up the port services market. From the outset, the cargo handling and passenger services were excluded and left at the discretion of each Member State. For other services, what will prevail in giving them to private hands are the security, the port’s public duties and the traffic – i.e. the need for concession at all. Transparency which is imposed by this regulation will also contribute to new investment, including public, but upon clearly defined procedures.