Lessons from the past…to better prepare the future


When we decided to dedicate a session of FEPORT’s Conference to shipbuilding, few people expressed their surprise as our organization is not representing shipyards but private port companies and seaport terminals. Our answer is that we believe in the “coalition of the willing” to collectively raise awareness about the strategic importance of the maritime cluster.

We also believe that, in the “EU shipbuilding case study”, there are a lot of lessons to be learnt by all the actors of the maritime cluster. The “shipbuilding case” also offers some takeaways upon which policy makers should capitalize when elaborating future proposals and policies.

Our colleagues from the EU shipyards have gone through difficult times when, in 1998, upon proposal of the European Commission, the EU Council adopted Regulation (EC) No 1540/98 establishing new rules on aid to shipbuilding and prohibiting operating aid for EU shipyards. This happened in context where there was no efficient “international police to avoid subsidy race among third countries’ shipyards” and led to the situation we know today.

It is really a pity for the EU that containerships are essentially built in Asia. But what is worse is to accept it as a “fact of life” or claim that those ships are not, in terms of technology or added value, interesting for EU shipyards.

Multilateral instruments have proven to be challenging for EU shipbuilding because of the complexity of filing a complaint in the framework of WTO. Hence, it is important for the EU to think about other tools.

It is still difficult to understand the rationale that motivated the decision of the European Commission in the late 1990's as far as sectoral State Aid rules are concerned. EU support to the competitiveness of the maritime community should not be based on an “either, or” principle but should be inclusive and benefit many industries. There are high expectations from all maritime stakeholders with regards to the future Transport Strategy.

The recent approval of the establishment of a co-programmed partnership for zero-emission waterborne transport in the framework of Horizon Europe (the EU’s future research and innovation programme) is definitely good news for the development of knowledge, technologies and solutions that will enable zero-emission shipping for all ship types and ship services, in line with the Green Deal for Europe. It will be essential to rely on technologies that can be developed thanks to European knowhow.

But decarbonization is not only about new technologies and products. It is also about defining rules of governance for data sharing, to boost the use of digitalization and enable sustainable trade and growth.

The EU must be very proactive to prevent any “hold up on data” from groups or corporations which would instore monopolies and become too dominant. This is particularly crucial in a context where, within the EU and outside the EU, companies are vertically integrating other segments of the logistics chain.

Competition rules on mergers, cartels and state aid will also have to be rethought to ensure a level playing field and fair competition. They will also have to recognize the strategic character of sectors like shipping, ports and shipbuilding.

Should you wish to know more about the above topics, join us at FEPORT’s Fifth Stakeholders’ Conference where we hope to have lively debates with our guest speakers and representatives from the industry and the EU institutions.



Fifth Annual Stakeholders’ Conference

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07.10.2019 Digital Transport and Logistics Plenary – Helsinki

On the 7th of October, FEPORT participated to the Plenary meeting of the DTLF held in Helsinki in the framework of the Digital Transport Days.

DTLF Helsinki

The DTLF is a forum established by the European Commission that brings together stakeholders from different transport and logistics communities, from both the private and the public sector, with a view to build a common vision and road map for digital transport and logistics.

The Plenary meeting was dedicated to discussions about the state of play, next steps and results delivered so far by the different subgroups.

Examples of different initiatives aiming to facilitate seamless data sharing in the freight transport and logistics sector have also been presented.


07-09.10.2019 – Digital Transport Days – Helsinki

The Digital Transport Days organised by the European Commission and the Finnish Presidency of the Council of the European Union from 7th to 9th October 2019 gathered many participants interested in digital solutions for transport and mobility.


A discussion on data-sharing opened the event and the topic of digital freight made a regular appearance over the three days, starting with a Digital Transport and Logistics Forum plenary, and ending with sessions on autonomous ships, port ecosystems and automated inland waterways. Innovative solutions in rail, road, maritime and aviation along with new technologies such as 5G, AI, IoT, big data and blockchain were also debated.

FEPORT President, Mr Gunther Bonz, was invited to participate in the panel discussion in the session titled “Towards Optimising Port Ecosystem”. He explained that digitalization and data sharing are high on the agenda of port stakeholders, but it will be important to discuss the cost of investment in technologies allowing efficient exchange of information with the main beneficiaries, i.e. cargo owners and shippers.

FEPORT President was also invited to discuss vessel call optimization. He mentioned that optimization has to do with communication and cooperation between shipping companies and port stakeholders. Sending accurate information about ETAs, respecting the allocated time slots, avoiding no shows and blank sailings, having a good coordination between techno-nautical services, etc…are key success factors.

Regarding fuel consumption at berth, the real number of delays and the length of waiting times, Mr Bonz strongly recommended the collection of reliable figures first to, avoid any biased or caricatural depiction of the reality.


08.10.2019 – TIC 4.0 Plenary Meeting – Marseille

On Tuesday 8th October, the Plenary Meeting of the Terminal Industry Committee 4.0 (TIC 4.0) took place in Marseilles (France), in coincidence with the Port Equipment Manufacturers Association (PEMA) Autumn Members Meeting.

TIC Marseille 2   TIC Marseille

Nearly 20 international companies from the container terminal operators, equipment manufacturers and software providers sectors met with the objective of advancing towards the establishment of TIC 4.0 as an international association.

TIC 4.0 members have now been working for over one year sub-divided in several working groups to agree on industry concepts and definitions to develop container industry standards that will enable the sector to face critical challenges like digital transformation, energy transition and the evolution towards automation, among others.

This objective responds to a need recognized by the sector of making standards available that allow both operators and manufacturers to adopt a common language for port operations and implement Industry 4.0 models. The existence of these standards will allow a faster and efficient adoption of the Industry 4.0 paradigm and at a lower cost, allowing operators, manufacturers and software providers to share a common understanding of the key aspects that affect the operations and logistics of port terminals.

The TIC 4.0 members have voted in favour of taking the Committee to the next level incorporating as a formal association by the end of 2019, thus to continue working to define harmonised semantics and definitions for port operations. TIC 4.0 welcomes organisations in the Port operations and Port solution providers sectors to join, as the objective is for the association to reach 30 members in 2020.

TIC 4.0 association is promoted and supported by The Federation of European Private Port Operators (FEPORT) and PEMA and is currently chaired by Terminal Link.

Source: TIC 4.0


08.10.2019 – EU-China Connectivity Platform – Brussels

On the 8th of October, FEPORT joined a stakeholders’ meeting of the EU-China Connectivity platform, hosted by DG MOVE.

The EU-China Connectivity Platform was created by China and the EU to facilitate information exchange, create better transport connections, create opportunities for cooperation for Chinese and European enterprises and to ensure transparency and a level playing field in the transport sector.

During the meeting, DG MOVE and industry representatives discussed possible participation in several Chinese infrastructure and logistics projects. Industry representatives were invited to report about any issues they have when it comes to doing business in China (e.g. related to reciprocity, market access etc.).


11.10.2019 – DINA Expert Group Meeting – Brussels

On the 11th of October 2019, FEPORT Secretariat participated in the meeting of the Commission Expert Group on Digital Inland Navigation (DINA), which was organized by DG MOVE.

The DINA expert group gives the opportunity to stakeholders from the inland navigation community to be informed about and give feedback on Commission initiatives in the field of Digital Inland Navigation.

During the meeting, representatives from DG MOVE commented on the state of play of the Electronic Freight Transport Information regulation. Moreover, the participants discussed the feasibility of increasing digitalisation in inland waterway transport.


16.10.2019 – Green Inland Shipping Event – Brussels

Wednesday the 16th of October, FEPORT Secretariat attended the Green Inland Shipping event taking place at the port of Brussels. The event was jointly organized by the European Inland Barging Innovation Platform (EIBIP), the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR), the European Barge Union (EBU), EFIP – the European Federation of Inland Ports, the IWT Platform, Inland Navigation Europe (INE), the port of Brussels, the European Commission and the Finnish Presidency of the Council.

The event included speakers from the Brussels-Capital Government, the Finnish Presidency of the Council, European Parliament as well as the European Commission.

During the event, the participants got the opportunity to visit innovative inland navigation vessels. These vessels all applied different technological and fuel-related solutions but had in common that – through innovation – they contributed to the decarbonization of inland navigation.


18.10.2019 – Social Dialogue for Ports Committee Meeting – Brussels

SSDC Oct2   SSDC Oct

On October 18th, members of the European Social Dialogue for Ports Committee met in Brussels to discuss different topics on the agenda.

After several months of constructive work of experts from FEPORT, ETF, IDC and ESPO, the Guidelines on the fumigation of containers have been finalized and formally adopted by the plenary.

Social partners also had extensive discussions on the work program for the next three years i.e. safety of work on board of ships, mapping of the required skills in ports of the future and training and prevention of risks and accidents on terminals.


23.10.2019 – EFIP Anniversary – Strasburg

On 23 October, the European Federation of Inland Ports celebrated its 25th Anniversary. The event, which was hosted by the CCNR and the Port of Strasbourg, took place in the Salle des Fêtes of the Palais du Rhin in Strasbourg.


Several speakers presented the challenges that inland ports are facing, such as the multimodal shift, energy transition and the relations with neihgbours and port cities.

EFIP President, Mr Friedrich Lehr, closed the event and mentioned that as enablers of green logistics, inland ports will be able to support the goal of a climate neutral economy by 2050.


24.10.2019 – Trade Contact Group – Brussels

On the 24th of October, the Secretariat joined the 55th Plenary Meeting of the Trade Contact Group. The Trade Contact Group provides a platform for consultations on the development of customs policy, on future customs legislation and the implementation of current legislation. FEPORT is active in this group, most notably to monitor developments about the Union Customs Code.

During the meeting, DG TAXUD presented its efforts to inform the business community about customs issues related to Brexit. Furthermore, the members of the TCG were informed about the state of play regarding the implementation of the Union Customs Code.


29.10.2019 – HLSG – Brussels

On October 29, FEPORT took part in the 8th meeting of the Expert sub-Group on the European Maritime Single Window Environment of the High-Level Steering Group for Governance of the Digital Maritime System and Services.

The regulation creating a European Maritime Single Window environment has been adopted in June 2019. At the moment, implementing and delegated acts are being prepared to further elaborate the EMSWe regulatory framework. FEPORT Secretariat participates in these discussions to ensure that the upcoming delegated and implementing acts are in line with our members’ interests.



Events supported by FEPORT


ETA event

The event will bring together ETA members to discuss smart business. The scope will be to look into what the thriving business models for the future will be. The panellists will take a look at other business models in parallel sectors that have proven to be successful, in order to learn lessons from these scenarios.



ICHCA 20 20

Shippers, carriers, ports and terminals, inland operators, regulators, researchers, educators, NGOs, equipment, technology, service providers and all those concerned with the safety, security and sustainability of cargo operations on land and at sea are invited to join ICHCA in the Mediterranean hub port of Malta this 11-14 November to help shape the future.



waterborne event

On 29 November 2019, the Waterborne Technology Platform, FEPORT, SEA Europe, CLECAT, ECSA, IWT Platform and ALICE will jointly organize a conference regarding waterborne transport. The conference aims to bring together the European waterborne transport sector, members of European Parliament and the European Commission to discuss the importance of research and innovation for the waterborne transport sector to be able to contribute to societal challenges, and on the other hand to ensure that the waterborne transport sector remains competitive in a global level playing field.

The conference will be organized along the following main themes:

  • The transformation to zero-emission waterborne transport and port operations;
  • Connected and automated waterborne transport and all its elements;
  • Port operations in 2050 and integrating maritime and hinterland logistics.

During the conference, the Waterborne Technology Platform will launch its technological research agenda, which follows the missions and visions as presented in January 2019. In addition, a strategic cooperation between Waterborne and ALICE will be concluded during the conference. It is organized back-to-back with FEPORT’s fifth annual stakeholders’ Conference.

The conference will start at 09:00 and finish ultimately 15:00 o’clock and will take place at the following location: Residence Palace, Rue de la Loi 155, 1040 Brussels.

In order to register for the event, please sent an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. latest 15 October 2019.





FEPORT meetings

06.11.2019            Customs & Logistics Committee - Brussels

14.11.2019            Board of Directors - Brussels

27.11.2019            General Assembly - Brussels

28.11.2019            Fifth Annual Stakeholders Conference – Brussels


Institutional meetings

04-05.11.2019        EMPL Committee Meeting – Brussels

06.11.2019             TRAN Committee Meeting – Brussels

06-07.11.2019        ENVI Committee Meeting – Brussels

12.11.2019             EMPL Committee Meeting – Brussels

21.11.2019             EMPL Committee Meeting – Brussels

02.12.2019             EU Transport Council – Brussels

02-03.12.2019        ENVI Committee Meeting – Brussels

02-03.12.2019        TRAN Committee Meeting – Brussels


Other meetings

05.11.2019            ETF Conference – Brussels

07.11.2019            ETA Conference – Brussels

12-15.11.2019       ICHCA Conference - Malta

13.11.2019            ESPO Awards – Brussels

14.11.2019            EuDA Conference – Brussels

19-20.11.2019       ENMC Meeting – Rome

22.11.2019            EU-China Connectivity Platform – Brussels

29.11.2019            Waterborne Conference – Brussels

03-04.12.2019       Assise de la Mer – Montpellier

11-12.12.2019       ALICE Plenary Meeting – Brussels



FEPORT Newsletter - October 2019