Port congestion, the tree hiding the forest...


During their General Assembly meeting held on November 30th, 2021, FEPORT members discussed the current 5th wave of the COVID-19 and its effects on the maritime logistics chain. They have also commented the heavy pressure on EU ports resulting from some problematic practices as well as disruptive events that have taken place in 2021 (lasting low vessel schedule reliability, cancellation of calls, Suez blockade, Chinese ports’ closure, shortage of truck drivers and chassis in non-EU ports, etc.).

The recent debate about international congestion during the Plenary meeting of the European Parliament[1] has shown that MEPs are interested in understanding the real causes of disruption and congestion in ports. They are requesting accurate information, facts and figures to avoid drawing wrong conclusions.

Indeed, it is regrettable that congestion in ports is very easily brought as the main cause for the current disruption and that the situation prevailing in ports outside the EU leads to generalization about European ports. This is not very fair towards port companies and terminals and their workers, who have deployed tremendous efforts to keep most European ports open 24/7 since the outbreak of COVID-19, thus allowing goods to reach the shelves of supermarkets.

2020 and 2021 have been very testing years for our operations in European ports. The impacts of COVID-19, low vessel schedule reliability, compounded by the incident in the Suez Canal, the closure of Chinese terminals and the resulting congestion in parts of the world have disrupted supply chains. Nevertheless, European ports terminals have remained operational while struggling with deteriorating vessel schedule reliability” states Mr Gunther Bonz, FEPORT President.

In early 2020, the pandemic initially resulted in a decline in ship arrivals, but there was a rebound in the second half of 2020 along with a slight increase in the median time that ships were spending in port.

As mentioned in the recent UNCTAD review of maritime transport[2], despite the constraints related to COVID-19 on labor organization, median time in port in 2020 changed by 2.9% compared to 2019. This translates into a change of operational time of around half an hour, negligible compared to the weeks of voyage times of most ships.

The figures regarding schedule reliability before and since the outbreak of COVID-19 are by far more problematic. According to new data from Sea-Intelligence[3], two out ever three vessels were behind schedule with the number of days delayed also remaining at the highest levels.

On a year-over-year basis, schedule reliability in September 2021 was down 22 percentage points. For the whole of 2021, Sea-Intelligence reports that schedule reliability has been in a range of 34 to 40 percent.

“The low vessel schedule reliability, which was already a very problematic trend before COVID-19, as well as last minute cancellations of calls, are putting more and more pressure on port stakeholders as ports are the place where all inefficiencies of the maritime logistics chain appear. Ports cannot be the buffer which absorbs all those inefficiencies and they certainly do not deserve simplistic generalizations” concludes FEPORT President.

FEPORT reiterates its call to have constructive discussions based on facts and figures with representatives from EU institutions to identify the real causes of the current disruption in the maritime logistics chain.





[1] Procedure File: 2021/2980(RSP) | Legislative Observatory | European Parliament (europa.eu)
[2] Review of Maritime Transport 2021 | CNUCED (unctad.org)
[3] Sea-Intelligence - Schedule reliability still very poor in September 2021





19.10.2021  – CACTUS Final Report

On the 19th of October, the International Union of Railways (UIC) and the International Union for road-rail combined transport (UIRR) presented the results of their study commissioned by the European Union Agency for Railways. This Comparative Analysis on Combined Transport Usages and Standards (CACTUS) aims at facilitating Combined Transport activities and boosting its integration with other modes of transport.

cactus final report

Currently, Combined Transport operations are organized through different and not always aligned regulations and standards (TSIs, EN, IRS, ISO, etc.). They define the design/testing requirements for Intermodal Loading Units (ILUs) and set out the conditions for the compatibility of ILUs with the different transport modes and for their transshipment in terminals.

Regarding key recommendations, the study calls for the creation of a specific TSI on combined transport covering infrastructure, operation, traffic management and rolling stock subsystem aspects relevant for the interoperability of ILUs loaded on suitable wagons. Furthermore, the study proposes to include relevant combined transport operating methods as described in UICs IRSs, in the existing TSI on wagons (WAG TSI).

Finally, CACTUS proposes to revise Directive 96/53/EC, as amended by EU Directive 2015/719, to define semi- trailers suitable for transport by rail as intermodal loading units. It is also about the revision of a number of ILU-related EN standards and the introduction of the updated requirements of cross-referencing between standards. This should allow to eliminate overlaps, contradictions and deficiencies.

Source: UIRR


26.10.2021 Launch of the second call for large-scale project proposals

On the 26th of October, the European Commission has launched the second call for large-scale projects under the Innovation Fund, one of the world’s largest funding programs for the demonstration of innovative low-carbon technologies. The Innovation Fund is financed by revenues from the auction of emission allowances from the EU’s Emissions Trading System. With a revenue of more than €25 billion until 2030, depending on the carbon price, it aims to create the right financial incentives for companies and public authorities to invest in the next generation of low-carbon technologies and give EU companies a first-mover advantage to become global technology leaders.

innovation fund

With a budget of €1.5 billion, this second call will finance breakthrough technologies for renewable energy, energy-intensive industries, energy storage, and carbon capture, use and storage.

The application and selection process has only one stage. The call text as well as the methodologies for greenhouse gas emission avoidance and calculation of relevant costs remained largely similar to the first call but includes better guidance for applicants. Both resubmissions and new applications are welcome. The deadline to submit a full application is on the 3rd of March 2022. The information on the evaluation of the results will be provided in the third quarter of 2022 and grants will be awarded in the last quarter of 2022.

02.11.2021 COP26 calls for zero emission shipping by 2050 

In the framework of the UN Climate Change Conference COP26, world leaders met to discuss the role that the shipping industry and the maritime supply chain sector as a whole should play in order to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement designed to limit the increase in global temperature by limiting carbon emissions.


Fourteen countries signed the “Declaration on Zero Emission Shipping by 2050”, thus committing to strengthen the global effort to achieve zero emissions from international shipping by 2050, including at IMO. Moreover, the signatories pledged to:

  • Work at IMO level to adopt such a goal.
  • Adopt goals for 2030 and 2040 that place the sector on a pathway to full decarbonization by 2050.
  • Adopt measures to help achieve these goals.
Source: The Maritime Executive


08.11.2021 ALICE Webinar on standardization of cargo units in short-sea shipping and inland waterway transport

On the 8th of November, FEPORT attended a webinar organized by ETP ALICE and the MOSES consortium on “Moving Freight by Water: Sustainable Infrastructure & Innovative Vessels – Standardised Cargo Units.”

The Webinar featured presentations of the AEGIS and the MOSES projects, but also left room for a presentation by Mr Morten Jensen, from CINEA, regarding CEF 2021-2027. He stressed that the CEF Transport envelope had a worth of EUR 25.8 billion, of which 60% was dedicated to meeting the EU’s climate targets.

Mr Morten Jensen also notified the participants on the existence of the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Facility (AFIF) call, a rolling call of 3 years with a budget of EUR 1.5 billion. The call will have 5 periodical deadlines per six months until the end of 2023.

Speaking on behalf of SINTEF Ocean, Mr Ørnulf J. Rødseth presented the AEGIS H2020 project. The aim of the project is to increase the amount of cargo moved by water. One way to achieve this, according to Mr Rødseth, would be to further standardize cargo units and to look at which cargo sizes and weights would be conducive to further automation and reductions of logistics costs.

The EU H2020 funded MOSES project which looks into the development of a matchmaking platform that should attract cargo to short sea shipping which is currently moved by land was also presented.

Source: ALICE


09.11.2021 – Port of Gdańsk Authority wins ESPO Award 2021

On the 9th of November, the Port of Gdańsk Authority won the ESPO Award 2021 for its project “WE ARE – unification of local community of Gdańsk’s districts Nowy Port and Stogi with its old neighbour, the seaport”.

Various activities took place under the WE ARE slogan to promote the values of cooperation, solidarity and responsibility. Efforts focused on the residents of two districts of Gdańsk: Nowy Port and Stogi. During the longest lockdown, the Port funded and distributed 8000 meals to seniors who were most exposed to the risk of contracting COVID-19, purchased medical equipment for Pomeranian hospitals to combat the coronavirus, supported local sports clubs to continue training, and supported two local initiatives.


16.11.2021 EPP Exchange of Views EU maritime transport and the EU maritime shipping industry

In the context of the ongoing discussions on the “Fit for 55” Package, FEPORT was invited to participate to the EPP exchange of views on the EU maritime transport and the EU maritime shipping industry, organized by MEP Marian Jean Marinescu, the Transport Coordinator from the EPP Group in the European Parliament.

During the exchange of views that took place on the 16th of November, the speakers discussed a wide range of topics, among which the evolution of emission reductions, the alternative fuels for maritime shipping which will be used in the future, and the potential raise in costs and prices and their effect on jobs and consumer accessibility.

FEPORT Secretary General, Mrs Lamia Kerdjoudj-Belkaid, stressed the importance of consistency when it comes to EU climate legislation, especially between the FuelEU and AFIR Regulation proposals. “If both Regulations are not aligned, port stakeholders will run the risk of stranded assets” she stated. “For instance, if the OPS user requirements in the FuelEU proposal are watered down, this will reduce the return on investment for clean refueling and recharging solutions, both from an environmental and business point of view.”

Mrs Kerdjoudj-Belkaid also alerted the audience on the risk of cargo diversion linked to the application of the EU ETS. Such a development could seriously jeopardize the position of European transshipment ports, further exacerbating the re-routing risk caused by Brexit.


19.11.2021 2022 Commission Working Program

On the 19th of November, the Commission adopted its 2022 Work Program, setting out the next steps of its agenda towards a post-COVID-19 Europe.

commission 2022 work programme

This Commission Work Program contains 42 new policy initiatives across all six headline ambitions of President Von der Leyen’s Political Guidelines, building on her 2021 State of the Union speech.

  1. A European Green Deal

On top of pursuing its efforts regarding the “Fit for 55” package, the Commission will propose a regulatory framework for certification of carbon removals. It will also take further steps towards zero-emission mobility and strengthen its commitment to place sustainable finance at the forefront of the EU’s recovery effort.

  1. A Europe fit for the digital age

The Commission will follow up on its path to the digital decade to deliver on the EU’s digital transformation by 2030. The Single Market remains key to Europe’s innovation and, therefore, the Commission will come forward with a Single Market Emergency Instrument to prevent future disruptions. To address pressing concerns around the supply of semi-conductors powering digital solutions, the Commission will adopt a European Chips Act and, additionally, propose a European Cyber Resilience Act to establish common cybersecurity standards.

  1. An economy that works for people

With the recovery gathering pace and economic activity on its way back to pre-crisis levels, the Commission will follow up on the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan as a guide towards quality jobs, fair working conditions and a better work-life balance and will present a proposal to improve the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to asbestos at work.

  1. A stronger Europe in the world

Over the next year, the Commission will set out a new global gateway strategy to build connectivity partnerships around the world to boost trade and investment. By the end of this year, a new EU-NATO Joint Declaration will be presented, and the Commission will seek to accelerate work on a genuine European Defence Union. In pursuit of the global energy transition and healthier oceans, a new strategy on international energy engagement and an action plan on international ocean governance will be tabled.

  1. Promoting our European way of life

To ensure young people have the ability to shape the future, the Commission has proposed to make 2022 the European Year of Youth and will deploy a new initiative, ALMA (Aim, Learn, Master, Achieve), helping disadvantaged young Europeans.

  1. A new push for European democracy

The Commission will take further steps to safeguard media freedom and pluralism, by tabling a European Media Freedom Act, and will continue to guard the rule of law, central to the effective functioning of the EU. To step up the fight against cross-border crime, a common legal framework for the efficient transfer of criminal proceedings between Member States will remain high on the agenda.


19.11.2021 Feedback opportunity on “CountEmissions EU

As stipulated in its 2022 Working Program, the EU Commission will introduce a legislative proposal entitled “CountEmissions EU” in the fourth quarter of 2022. 

The initiative should provide a common framework for calculating the GHG emissions of transport in the passenger and freight segments. 

By doing so, the EU seeks to tackle the current fragmentation of methodological approaches to calculate GHG emissions as well as the limited uptake of emissions accounting in the everyday business practice of the transport sector. 

The EU Commission will base this upcoming legislative proposal partly on feedback received from stakeholders. To that end, the Commission has launched a first feedback opportunity which will remain open until the 17th of December.

Feedback can be provided via this link.

Source: European Commission


19.11.2021 Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee Plenary Meeting

After almost a year of interruption, FEPORT, ESPO, ETF and IDC decided to resume their discussions in the framework of the Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee for ports. The Social Dialogue had been halted because of the Commission’s lack of support and responsiveness on several key topics for the port sector.

Although the Social Partners continued to work on the topic of safety of port workers on board of ships, this issue was discussed at length during the meeting.

The Commission gave a presentation regarding the revision of the port State control Directive (2009/16/EC), as well as the Directive on maritime accident investigation (2009/18/EC). The Commission also reassured the SSDC members that the issue of dock worker safety on board of ships is under active consideration in the context of the overall revision of the investigation of maritime accidents.

The SSDC members also had the opportunity to listen to a Mr Olaf Merk, who presented the ITF/OECD  report on Container Port Automation published in October, 2021.

report on container port automation

The report mentions that 53 container terminals in the world are automated to a certain degree, representing 4% of global container terminal capacity, but fully automated container terminals do not yet exist.

Most automated systems are deployed in the container yard, few terminals have automated the transport between quay and yard, while no terminal has completely automated quay cranes.

Automated terminals have higher capital costs as automated equipment is more expensive. Increased peak loads and volatility of cargo flows make the case for automation less convincing and flexible arrangements for port labor more appropriate.

Finally, Mr Merk illustrated the following Report recommendations:

  • Put more focus on flexible labor arrangements.
  • Better identify the costs and benefits of port automation projects.
  • Stimulate social dialogue and co-operation between employers and workers on port automation.
  • Address social costs of automation.


23.11.2021 Sustainable Ports Subgroup

On the 23rd of November, FEPORT and a number of its members participated to the Sustainable Ports Group meeting of the European Port Forum.

During the meeting, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) provided an update regarding the elaboration of its guidance on OPS.

In principle, stakeholders should have access to the final draft by the end of November and will be able to give feedback before the final version is published in January 2022.

EMSA, together with the European Environment Agency (EEA), provided another presentation on their first European Maritime Transport Environment Report (EMTER), which is the first environmental report on maritime transport done at European level.  The report does not only focus on GHG emissions, but also on other air pollutants (e.g., NoX, Sox and particulate matter) as well as ballast water treatment and hazardous substances. Moreover, the report zooms on different countries, cargo and ship types.

Another part of the meeting dealt with DG MOVE commissioned study on “best practices in terms of use of alternative fuels and clean energy for port operations”. Consultancy CENIT presented an update about the ongoing survey on best practices relating to the provision of alternative fuels for port operations.

24.11.2021 First EU-UK Domestic Advisory Group meeting

Members of EU civil society held their first Domestic Advisory Group meeting on the TCA. The EU UK DAG is unique in the sense that it feeds input to EU and UK officials on the implementation of the entire agreement. This is a break from earlier practice in EU trade agreements where DAGs only looked on labor and environment provisions of free trade agreements.

This week’s DAG was mainly a kick-off meeting. It was attended by 21 EU business associations (among which CER and FEPORT on behalf of the transport sector), labor unions and NGOs and hosted – as all DAGs – by the European Economic and Social Committee.

A wide range of topics were discussed apart from the usual environmental or labor topics such as implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol and market access – notably public procurement and movement of persons (Mode 4).

Source: Borderlex and FEPORT


25.11.2021 – European Parliament debate on International ports’ congestions and increased transport costs affecting the EU

During the Plenary meeting of the 25th of November, the European Parliament discussed the issue of international ports’ congestions and increased transport costs affecting the EU.

Speaking on behalf of Commissioner Valean, Commissioner Dalli acknowledged that ports’ congestion and increased transport costs are of utmost importance to European industries and economy and that there are multiple causes for the current disruption in the market. She also noted that spot freight rates have continued rising in the third quarter of 2021 reaching new historical highs and that schedule reliability remains poor. Ms Dalli underlined the need to enhance the resilience of our supply chains and be better prepared to respond to potential future crises. She also argued that, in markets that are heavily intertwined, common actions would appear as the most appropriate responses.

During the debate that followed Commissioner Dalli speech, many MEPs voiced concerns about the impact of this crisis on the EU, namely the threat to the economic recovery and the proper functioning of the maritime supply chains.

Some MEPs suggested that the EU should work with its international partners to investigate the real causes of this congestion, while others voiced their concerns regarding competitiveness and concentration processes.





Members' News Corner

28.10.2021 – DP World volumes rise

At the end of October, DP World announced that it handled 58.4 million TEU through its container terminals around the world in the first 9 months of 2021, which means an 11.9% increase on a year-on-year basis. In Q3 2021, DP World handled 19.8 million TEU, i.e., an 8.1% year-on-year increase.

According to DP World Chairman and CEO Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem: “We are delighted to report another strong quarter for DP World with throughput growth of 8.1%, which is once again ahead of the average industry growth of 6.4%. This strong performance illustrates the resilience of the global container industry, and DP World’s continued ability to outperform the market.”

However, DP World does expect growth rates to moderate in Q4 as the COVID-19 pandemic, continued supply chain disruptions and geopolitical uncertainty are all factors that could negatively affect global economic recovery.

Source: gCaptain


03.11.2021 – Rotterdam World Gateway plans to become carbon-neutral by 2024

RWG has unveiled plans to offset its CO2 emissions and become fully CO2-neutral by 2024. That year, RWG seeks to achieve fully carbon-neutral container handling at their terminal in the port of Rotterdam.

At the same time, RWG is investing in the “Nature-based solutions” program of Shell which features projects aimed at protecting and restoring natural areas thereby allowing C02 to be absorbed by nature.

To achieve this carbon neutrality objective, some changes are required. For instance, equipment with combustion engines using the relatively clean gas to liquid (GTL) fuel will be replaced by fully electric equipment. Likewise, the electrical and civil infrastructure will be upgraded to provide high power charger points.

According to Ronald Lugthart, CEO at RWG, “We at RWG are committed to sustainable and clean operations. Our goal to be completely emission-free from 2024 onwards is not only ambitious, but also necessary regarding future generations.”

RWG already has automated services which increases efficiency in the storage and transshipment of containers.  Moreover, all RWG cranes and many of its vehicles use green electricity.

Source: Offshore Energy


10.11.2021 HHLA notes strong increase in revenues and earnings

Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) reported a strong performance when it comes to revenues and earnings in the first three quarters of this year. In particular, a temporary rise in storage fees as a consequence of longer container dwell times caused by the ongoing disruptions in global supply chains have had a positive impact.

HHLA also reaped the fruits from strong growth in container transport volumes, by noting down a EUR 162.1 million operating result, which constituted a 51.3% year-on-year increase. Overall, the HHLA Group recorded a revenue rise of 12.4% to EUR 1,078.9 million.

Angela Titzrath, Chairwoman of HHLA’s Executive Board, said the following regarding HHLA’s operations at a time of major global production and supply chain disruptions: The ongoing, at times massive, ship delays are posing major challenges to our operations. Nevertheless, we are aware of our responsibility as a service provider for Germany as an industrialized nation. We are therefore working 24/7 at our facilities, with both equipment and personnel operating at high capacity, to ensure that companies and consumers receive their goods despite all the disruptions to global production and supply chains. We are operating on the basis that the difficulties will continue into 2022. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and weather-related effects, it is not possible to provide a precise forecast as to when supply chains will return to normal.”

Source: HHLA


11.11.2021 – Paceco Group delivers three STS cranes to Yilport Gävle Terminal

Yilport Gävle Terminal (Sweden) has received three ship-to-shore (STS) Portainer cranes. These cranes are much needed as Yilport Gävle Terminal finds itself currently in the final phase of its expansion.

The cranes were manufactured at Mitsui E&S Machinery’s Oita (Japan) and have undergone a technical service from the Japanese company Paceco Momentum that commissioned the cranes upon arrival at the terminal and took care of the cranes’ electrical connections.

Yilport Liscont Container (Lisbon, Portugal) is expecting two similar cranes from the same facilities in Japan, that are to be delivered by the end of this year.

Source: Container Management


16.11.2021 DP World announces CARGOES Ports and Terminals solutions category

On the first day of the CARGOES Digital Trade Flow event, DP World’s CARGOES team announced a new Ports and Terminal Solutions category on its suite of enterprise products and services.

The new category will focus on four key sub-categories, including Internet of Things (IOT+), Advanced Video Analytics (AVA+), General Cargo (GC+), and Terminal Operating System products (TOS+) that will house different products.

The TOS+ section will support integration and is available in 70% of DP World’s ports and other existing port software for advanced process automation. AVA+ will provide terminals with image recognition solutions to ID container information, damage and more. GC+ will provide general cargo SaaS in a single-window solution, and TOS+ will provide a foundational suite that allows for operations and planning, billing and more.

Source: Port Technology

24.11.2021 Commission clears acquisition of syncreon by DP World

On the 24th of November, the European Commission approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition by DP World of sole control of syncreon Newco B.V. (syncreon).

Back in July, DP World announced the acquisition of syncreon for an enterprise value of US$1.2 billion. The US based global logistics provider, is specialized in the design and operation of complex supply chains for the high growth automotive and technology industries. syncreon provides specialized value-added warehousing and distribution solutions through a variety of manufacturing, export packaging, transportation management, reverse/repair and fulfilment services.

The group focuses on two key segments. Firstly, large technology customers to enable eCommerce and omni-channel fulfilment and aftermarket services, and secondly automotive companies for reception of materials, warehousing, inventory management, kitting/sequencing for line feeding, and export packaging. This is complemented by a growing presence serving customers in Consumer Goods, Healthcare and Industrial Markets.





FEPORT Sixth Stakeholders’ Conference

December 1st, 2021


save the date 2021




FEPORT meetings

01.12.2021                Sixth Annual Stakeholders’ Conference – Brussels


Institutional meetings

01.12.2021                 ECON Committee Meeting – Brussels

01-02.12.2021            TRAN Committee Meeting – Brussels

06.12.2021                  ECON Committee Meeting – Brussels

09.12.2021                  ENVI Committee Meeting – Brussels

09.12.2021                  FISC Committee Meeting – Brussels


Other meetings

24.01.2022                   SSDC Meeting – Online

01-03.02.2022              EuroMaritime Salon – Marseille

09.06.2022                   SSDC Meeting – Brussels

23.11.2022                    SSDC Plenary Meeting – Brussels



FEPORT Newsletter - November 2021