We shall overcome
We shall overcome
We shall overcome, some day
Oh, deep in our hearts
We do believe
We shall overcome, some day
Songwriters: Frank Hamilton / Guy Carawan / Pete Seeger / Zilphia Horton
03.03.2020 – Port Forum Meeting – Brussels
On the 3rd of March, FEPORT attended the 4th Meeting of the European Ports Forum.
During the meeting, Mrs Magda Kopczynska, from DG MOVE, reiterated that the Green Deal is a new growth strategy which will seek to end the fossil fuel-based model. With respect to the strategy on sustainable and smart mobility, to be published in Q4 2020, all sectors are expected to deliver and to contribute to the EU commitment to be climate neutral by 2050. Consultations on the matter will start by the end of March 2020, and a full day conference has been scheduled for the 9th of June 2020.
The revision of the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Directive (AFI Directive) was also a subject of discussion. DG MOVE described this Directive as an instrument able to increase the demand and reduce barriers for uptake of alternative fuels. The Commission acknowledged the existence of technological barriers and clarified that there will be no easy and univocal solution, but that a basket of solutions will be needed. The aim is to review the AFI Directive in 2021.
Mr Kai Tullius, Policy Officer at Unit B4, DG MOVE, sustainable and intelligent transport – informed the audience that the evaluation of the AFI Directive started in September 2019 and will be finalized in autumn 2020. At the end of March, an open public consultation will be launched.
04.03.2020 – EU Climate Law proposal and "2021, European Year of Rail" initiative
On the 4th of March 2020, the European Commission presented two proposals to enshrine in legislation the EU's political commitment to be climate neutral by 2050 and to progress with Combined Transport.
The first proposal, the European Climate Law, seeks to make the 2050 climate neutrality objectives of the European Green Deal legally binding. By enshrining the EU´s GHG emission reduction targets into law, the Commission aims to provide predictability to business and investors.
To monitor progress, a process of review will be established to regularly assess whether the trajectory until 2050 is still met and the Commission will review existing policies and regulations to assess their alignment with the Green Deal’s objectives. A 2030-2050 EU-wide trajectory will be proposed and as from September 2023, the Commission will assess the alignment of EU and national measures with the objective of climate-neutrality of 2050 and the 2030-2050 trajectory put in place to achieve this goal.
The European Climate Law also refers to the EU targets for 2030. By September 2020, after an impact assessment, the Commission will propose revised objectives, aiming to increase the EU´s GHG reduction target as compared to 1990 towards 50-55%.
Aside from mitigating the effects of climate change by reducing GHG emissions, the law also focuses on adaptation to climate change.
On the same day, the Commission proposed to make 2021 the “European Year of Rail”, in recognition of the increased role (electric) railways need to play in the dramatic reduction of transport’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The proposal aims to promote rail transport in line with the objectives set out in the Commission Communication on the European Green Deal, including with respect to sustainable and smart mobility. Through projects, debates, events, exhibitions and initiatives across Europe, the European Year of Rail will promote rail as an attractive and sustainable way to move across Europe, to citizens, business and authorities, emphasising its Union wide and innovative dimension.
10.03.2020 – A New Industrial Strategy for Europe
On the 10th of March 2020, the European Commission published its strategies for European industry, SMEs and for the Single Market.
The new Industrial Strategy is weaved into the EU Green Deal, the transition of Europe into a climate-friendly economy and into the digital transformation, enabling European industry to lead the way globally when it comes to climate neutrality and digitalisation. At the same time, this New Industrial Strategy for Europe wants to boost Europe’s competitiveness and strategic autonomy, while underlining the importance of a level playing field.
Regarding the EU internal market, the Communication notes that the EU Competition framework is currently under review. As part of this exercise, various state aid guidelines, for example concerning energy and environmental aid, are under revision. In addition, a Single Market Enforcement Taskforce, composed of Member States and the Commission will be set up.
Concerning international trade, competitiveness and the harmful effect of foreign subsidies in the single market, it is announced that by mid-2020 the Commission will assess how current anti-subsidy mechanisms can be strengthened. Moreover, after already referring to this policy measure in the Green Deal Communication, it is reiterated that if differences in climate ambitions around the world persist, the Commission will propose a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism in 2021.
The Communication also contains parts that directly relate to the (maritime) transport sector. A Comprehensive Strategy for Sustainable and Smart Mobility will be put forward that aims at enabling the transport sector to shape new international standards for safe, sustainable, accessible and resilient mobility. Mention is also made of an EU Strategy on Offshore Renewable Energy and the review of the TEN-E regulation.
10.03.2020 – European Commission publishes the Single Market Barriers Report
On the 10th of March 2020, the European Commission published its Single Market Barriers Report. This report examines the main still existing barriers to a well-functioning single market and identifies their root causes. As the report points out, such an exercise is indeed of importance, as removing the barriers to a fully functioning single market could amount to benefits of EUR 713 billion by the end of 2029.
One of the barriers reported by business relates to a lack of access to information on rules and requirements. Also a lack of transparency regarding public procurement practices was highlighted. According to the report, 38% of surveyed businesses reported the problem of “arbitrary public procurement practices”. Furthermore, a lack of tax harmonization is often perceived as a problem, by business operating cross-border or in different countries. For example, due to divergences in the different tax systems.
When it comes to the root causes of the various barriers to a complete Single Market, these among others relate to Member States’ diverging regulatory approaches, the complex interaction between national and EU law, sometimes an incomplete or incorrect transposition of EU directives by Member States, and inadequate implementation of EU law.
10.03.2020 – European Commission presents the Single Market Enforcement Action Plan
On the 10th of March 2020, the European Commission issued its communication on the Single Market Enforcement Action Plan. Great part of this action plan is about ensuring the proper enforcement and implementation of the rules of the single market as well as removing still existing barriers to the free movement of people and goods. The Action Plan departs from the assumption that whereas Member States are obliged to apply those rules they have agreed upon and to ensure enforcement, the Commission has the responsibility to monitor Member States’ compliance, and act through infringement procedures if necessary.
One of the key measures of the action plan would be to establish a Single Market Enforcement Task Force, made up of Member States and Commission representatives. This task force will among others be charged to assess the compliance of national with single market rules and will monitor the implementation of the Single Market Enforcement Action Plan. The taskforce will regularly inform the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) of the European Parliament as well as the Competitiveness Council.
With a Single Market scoreboard, Member States and the Commission will have a performance-monitoring tool at their disposal to assess the application of Single Market rules.
National authorities will also be helped through setting up a central information point, where civil servants can raise any practical issues they may have regarding the day-to-day application of Single Market Rules. Moreover, based on their specific needs and performance, Member States can be eligible for Capacity Building programs.
Aside from facilitating the monitoring efforts of Member States and the Commission, attention is also paid to improving business’ access to information. Through the Single Digital Gateway, business will have access to information on single market rules, allowing them to conform and comply.
The Single Market Enforcement Action Plan also looks into facilitating customs’ controls. In that regard, the use of digital tools will be encouraged and looked into.
11.03.2020 – Towards a carbon-neutral, zero accidents, automated and competitive EU Waterborne Transport Sector
In the framework of the High Level Ministerial Maritime Conference, that took place at Opatija, Croatia, the Ministers responsible for waterborne transport policy, covering maritime transport and inland navigation, addressed the topic of maritime affairs and adopted the so-called Opatija Declaration. This Declaration will provide guidelines to the Member States for the development of maritime policy by 2030 in the context of the protection of the marine environment, with a focus on supporting the fight to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships and further digitization in maritime and inland navigation.
The Declaration is based on five key points:
- environmental protection,
- human resources,
- security and competitiveness.
The Ministerial Declaration on Waterborne Transport also:
- Recognized Waterborne Transport as having a strategic and vital role for the EU economy.
- Underlined that “any measure towards carbon neutrality must be flag neutral whilst ensuring a level playing field and avoiding carbon leakage.”
- Supports the Waterborne partnership.
- Recognized the role of LNG as a transitional fuel.
- Emphasized “the need to develop carbon-neutral port activities through the promotion of green initiatives on port operations, vessels and energy industrial production”.
- Highlighted the importance of the complete and timely implementation of European Maritime Single Window Environments (EMSWe).
18.03.2020 – ETF, FEPORT, IDC and ESPO call on workers and employers to strictly respect health and safety measures during COVID-19 pandemic
On 30th of January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, and on 11th of March, due to the rapid spread of the virus worldwide, it has been declared as a pandemic.
The WHO emphasized the urgent need to coordinate international efforts to investigate and better understand COVID-19, to minimize threat in the affected countries and to reduce the risk of further international spread.
ETF, IDC, FEPORT and ESPO are following closely the evolution of COVID-19 outbreak in Europe, and its effects on European ports.
In this context of global emergency, port stakeholders and workers are on the frontline and play a key role in ensuring that essential goods are loaded and unloaded and that all shipments reach their final destinations.
Disastrous economic consequences of this pandemic are expected to hit port companies in the coming months. It is of utmost importance that those undertakings are economically supported to avoid disruptive effects on the logistics chains as well as job losses. European ports are critical infrastructures of high importance for the Internal Market.
The above-mentioned organizations call on the European Commission to provide general guidance regarding health contingency measures to be applied in ports and to recommend to Member States to take all actions that are needed to preserve health and safety in the port sector including the necessary means for companies to ensure the safety and health of workers.
It is of crucial importance in this difficult context that more stringent health and safety measures in all European ports are implemented to preserve workers’ health, to limit the spread of the virus and to avoid prolongation of this public-health crisis and its economic consequences.
We call on all port companies to ensure that such measures are effectively implemented and to provide all necessary means to protect employees in the workplaces.
We call on all port workers to strictly respect health and safety measures that have been set to face this serious emergency.
ETF, IDC, FEPORT and ESPO will continue monitoring the evolution of COVID-19 and its impact on the sector and provide updates to representatives from the EU institutions.
18.03.2020 – WHO and world public health authorities are taking action to contain the COVID-19 outbreak
Over the last weeks, the COVID-19 crisis has rampaged across the entire world. Both European and international institutions have sprung into action and launched a series of major countermeasures.
COVID-19 spread can be emotionally challenging for many people and all segments of society – including employers and employees – should play a role to protect themselves and each other and help prevent further spread of the disease.
WHO and public health authorities around the world are taking action to contain the COVID-19 outbreak and are providing advice and updated information on COVID-19, and on how employers can protect their employees, what measures they should take in the workplace and other related factors.
The WHO has published multiple guidelines:
- Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19
- A guide to preventing and addressing social stigma associated with COVID-19
- Mental Health Considerations during COVID-19 Outbreak
20.03.2020 – European Commission adopts a Temporary Framework to enable Member States to further support the economy in the COVID-19 outbreak
In the context of the COVID-19 outbreak, the European Commission decided to adopt, on the 20th of March, a Temporary Framework to enable Member States to use the full flexibility foreseen under State aid rules, enabling them to ensure sufficient liquidity for businesses of all types and to preserve the continuity of economic activity during and after the COVID-19 outbreak.
Based on Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the State aid Temporary Framework provides for five types of aid:
- Direct grants, selective tax advantages and advance payments: Member States will be able to set up schemes to grant up to €800,000 to a company to address its urgent liquidity needs.
- State guarantees for loans taken by companies from banks: Member States will be able to provide State guarantees to ensure banks keep providing loans to the customers who need them.
- Subsidised public loans to companies: Member States will be able to grant loans with favourable interest rates to companies. These loans can help businesses cover immediate working capital and investment needs.
- Safeguards for banks that channel State aid to the real economy: some Member States plan to build on banks' existing lending capacities and use them as a channel for support to businesses – in particular to small and medium-sized companies. The Framework makes clear that such aid is considered as direct aid to the banks' customers, not to the banks themselves, and gives guidance on how to ensure minimal distortion of competition between banks.
- Short-term export credit insurance: The Framework introduces additional flexibility on how to demonstrate that certain countries are not-marketable risks, thereby enabling short-term export credit insurance to be provided by the State where needed.
23.03.2020 – FEPORT welcomes the reactivity of the EU Commission and calls on Member States to mobilize appropriate support for all critical infrastructures
Within few days, the European Commission has proposed a State aid Temporary Framework based on Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and triggered the clause to relax budget rules to remedy a serious disturbance across the EU economy in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The proposed new State Aid Temporary Framework that enables direct grants and selective tax advantages, State guarantees for loans taken by companies from banks and subsidised public loans to companies is positive news for SMEs but is not really tailored to support big corporations which are and shall also be heavily hit by the effects of COVID 19.
In the port sector, European private port companies and terminals, who employ more than 390 000 port workers, are currently mobilized to ensure business continuity and the good functioning of maritime logistics chains. European port companies include both SMEs as well as big corporations and all play a strategic role for critical infrastructures, i.e. European ports.
It is urgent that Member States make use of the provisions laid down in the Council Directive 2008/114/EC of 8 December 2008 on the identification and designation of European critical infrastructures and provide appropriate support to avoid disruption within EU supply chains as well as disastrous economic effects leading to significant job losses.
“As mentioned by many EU officials and Heads of State, we are living exceptional moments which require extraordinary action. It is important that all appropriate mechanisms beyond Article 107(3)(b) of the TFEU are mobilized by Members States and we welcome the President of the Commission’s decision to trigger the clause to relax budget rules” said FEPORT President, Mr Gunther Bonz.
“The impact of this crisis on economy and jobs will be tremendous and we need to take the right measures in a timely, efficient and effective manner. Member States and EU institutions must act to ensure the security of supplies thanks to all relevant critical infrastructures” added FEPORT President.
“As employers, we need to ensure a healthy and safe environment to our workers. They are all committed to continue to work because they are all aware of the strategic role played by critical infrastructures for all EU countries. We therefore call on Member States to support port companies also through the provision of protective equipment to guarantee the continuity of work” concluded Mr Gunther Bonz.
Like other stakeholders of EU maritime logistics chains, FEPORT members continue to accommodate vessels in the safest and most efficient way and remain committed to ensure the movement of cargo in European ports.
23.03.2020 – Joint statement by the European Competition Network on application of competition law during the COVID-19 crisis
On the 23rd of March 2020, the European Competition Network (ECN) has released a joint statement on the application of competition law during the Corona crisis.
Established to boost cooperation between the European Commission and the national competition authorities of the EU Member States, the ECN creates an effective mechanism to counter companies which engage in cross-border practices restricting competition and provides means to ensure that competition rules are applied. Through the ECN, the competition authorities inform each other of proposed decisions and take on board comments from the other competition authorities, pooling their experience and identifying best practices.
Through this body, the European competition authorities released the following joint statement:
- The ECN is fully aware of the social and economic consequences triggered by the COVID-19 outbreak in the EU/EEA.
- The different EU/EEA competition instruments have mechanisms to take into account, where appropriate and necessary, market and economic developments. Competition rules ensure a level playing field between companies. This objective remains relevant also in a period when companies and the economy as a whole suffer from crisis conditions.
- The ECN understands that this extraordinary situation may trigger the need for companies to cooperate in order to ensure the supply and fair distribution of scarce products to all consumers. In the current circumstances, the ECN will not actively intervene against necessary and temporary measures put in place in order to avoid a shortage of supply.
- Considering the current circumstances, such measures are unlikely to be problematic, since they would either not amount to a restriction of competition under Article 101 TFEU/53 EEA or generate efficiencies that would most likely outweigh any such restriction. If companies have doubts about the compatibility of such cooperation initiatives with EU/EEA competition law, they can reach out to the Commission, the EFTA Surveillance Authority or the national competition authority concerned any time for informal guidance.
- At the same time, it is of utmost importance to ensure that products considered essential to protect the health of consumers in the current situation (e.g. face masks and sanitising gel) remain available at competitive prices. The ECN will therefore not hesitate to take action against companies taking advantage of the current situation by cartelising or abusing their dominant position.
- In this context, the ECN would like to point out that the existing rules allow manufacturers to set maximum prices for their products. The latter could prove useful to limit unjustified price increase at the distribution level.
24.03.2020 – Member States joint procurement of personal protective equipment proven successful
The joint procurement of personal protective equipment to fight the corona crisis launched on the 17th of March has proven successful, the European Commission communicated through a press release on the 24th of March.
In some cases, the offers received constituted even higher quantities than those requested by the Member States taking part in the procurement.
The procurement covers essential equipment that healthcare professionals need to do their work safely and limit the further spread of covid-19 such as gloves, masks, face-shields and overalls.
Normally, this equipment will be available in two weeks, after the Member States have signed the contracts with the producers.
Maritime logistics is of vital importance in this crisis with respect to its key role in ensuring security of supplies. Port companies and seaport terminals need to guarantee a safe working environment to their personnel and take efficient measures to contain the spread of coronavirus. It is for this reason that FEPORT has called on Member States to ensure the supply of personal protective equipment to port workers so that continuity of work is ensured within European ports.
24.03.2020 – “Transport is essential for all” say FEPORT and 32 sister organizations and “All workers keeping supply chains functional are heroes”
On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 a pandemic and governments worldwide have taken wide-ranging measures to contain the spread of the virus.
The transport sector has a crucial role to play in the supply of goods, in particular medicines, medical devices, food and other essential commodities needed to overcome this crisis. The transport sector also proves to be a vital instrument in these times where many European citizens are restricted in their mobility.
The undersigned European associations representing transport, infrastructure managers, operators, workers in all transport modes and logistics, contractors, local and regional authorities, logistics service providers, shippers, users and equipment suppliers in the maritime, port, inland waterways, railways, road, cycling, aviation and intermodal sectors, as well as supporting industries and companies, jointly endorse the following statement:
- Highlight the key role transport and logistics are playing for the supply of essential goods in this critical period: stress that transport infrastructure is in this respect critical infrastructure.
- Show their respect and support to all workers in the supply chain enabling the continuity of transport services, the movement of goods and essential commodities, as well as the repatriation of stranded citizens, and thus playing a major role in helping the European citizens to overcome this crisis.
- Call on the Member States to enable smooth border crossings for freight transport, both intra-EU and with third countries, in this respect fully support the establishment of green freight lanes in coordination with the concerned transport stakeholders.
- Support the measures and actions taken on EU-level and by national governments to contain the spread of COVID-19 and call on the Members States to coordinate their response to the COVID-19 and to follow the European Commission’s guidelines on border management.
- Reiterate the importance of protecting the health and safety of transport workers, notably through personal protective equipment, as well as access to clean and disinfected sanitary facilities, food and drinks.
- Highlight that the transport and logistics sectors are based on a physical work force and call on the European Commission and the Member States to facilitate its mobility, including repatriation of the transport work force.
- Urge the policy makers to assist the heavily affected transport sector in its recovery, to ensure future connectivity for both passengers and freight, and to revitalise the arteries of the internal market as soon as the crisis is over.
25.03.2020 – European Commission issues guidance to Member States on the screening of foreign direct investment and capital movement from third countries amidst the COVID-19 crisis
In April 2019, Regulation (EU) 2019/542 for the screening of foreign direct investments into the Union entered into force. This regulation seeks to ensure coordination and cooperation on the screening of foreign direct investments with a risk of jeopardizing public order or security. The regulation does not oblige Member States to screen FDI, but does allow Member States and the Commission to exchange information about specific investments. Moreover, the Commission is allowed to issue opinions on investments possibly constituting a risk to public order or security. Moreover, the regulation sets requirements for Member States who want to keep their screening mechanism or set up a new one.
On the 25th of March 2020, the European Commission has adopted guidelines in view of ensuring a solid EU-wide approach during the COVID-19 crisis and the economic vulnerability that goes along with it. It is recognized that, during the COVID-19 crisis, FDI screening mechanisms should pay particular attention to risks to critical health infrastructures, as well as the supply of critical inputs. It should be avoided at all costs that foreign direct investments jeopardize the health needs of EU citizens.
The Commission calls on Member States to use the already existing FDI screening tools to the fullest extent, and, through the guidelines, provides more clarity on how to use them. It is recognized that, together with security and public order, also public health is an “overriding reason in the general interest.” Moreover, the European Commission calls on Member States that have not done so yet, to adopt an FDI screening mechanism.
Currently, 14 out of 27 EU Member States have such a screening mechanism in place. The Guidelines also contain information regarding under which conditions capital flows from third countries to acquire stakes in a company can be restricted. Such reasons can, for example, relate to ensuring the provision of essential services or to safeguarding security of supply.
26.03.2020 – Supply chain Stakeholders alert President von der Leyen about their disapproval of the Consortia BER extension
We, CLECAT, ETA, ESC, ETF and FEPORT, on behalf of thousands of European freight forwarders, tug owners, shippers and port companies and terminals and transport workers, have sent a letter to the President of the Commission, Ms Ursula Von der Leyen to express our strong disapproval of the decision to prolong the Consortia Block Exemption Regulation (CBER) with another four years without any changes.
In this critical period of the COVID-19 crisis, European supply chains play a crucial role to keep the free flow of goods in Europe going. We take this responsibility, which now takes all our attention, very serious. It is therefore with regret that the value of the stakeholders in the European supply chains has not been fully recognized in the review process of the Consortia BER. DG Competition has rejected our repeated request - as outlined in our Joint Submission - that the Commission only prolongs the CBER for one year. This would have allowed a thorough, fair and more balanced review, taking into account other sources of data than those provided by the representatives of the liner shipping industry.
We have underlined that, in light of the important changes in the market (in view of consolidation, vertical integration and digitalization) over the last five years, it was important to protect the interests of the EU logistics and supply chains. The current legal framework for liner shipping consortia has become obsolete given that most of the carriers operate in alliances and that market concentration is increasing.
During the review process of the Consortia BER which started at the end of 2018, our organizations as well as independent reports from the International Transport Forum have clearly demonstrated, that the benefits of the Regulation to the customers were not achieved. We also alerted the Commission on the impact such consortia can have on port services if clarifications were not made. The Commission, instead, has assessed the workings of the CBER only from the perspective of carriers and the Commission itself (as the competition regulator). There has been no explicit assessment against the experiences and expectations of customers of the services provided by Consortia, other service providers and transport workers.
We look forward to entering into a new dialogue with the Commission once we have managed to overcome the current COVID-19 crisis in the interests of European citizens.
We hope that in the future, the European Commission will, for the sake of equality of treatment, listen more carefully to the users and service providers of the liner shipping companies.
07.05.2020 Customs and Logistics Committee - Brussels
04-05.06.2020 General Assembly - Hamburg
02.09.2020 Port Policy Committee - Brussels
09.09.2020 Social Affairs Committee - Brussels
10.09.2020 Environment, Safety and Security Committee - Brussels
17.09.2020 Board of Directors - Brussels
21.10.2020 Customs and Logistics Committee - Brussels
04.11.2020 Port Policy Committee - Brussels
05.11.2020 Environment, Safety and Security Committee - Brussels
12.11.2020 Social Affairs Committee - Brussels
18.11.2020 Board of Directors - Brussels
19.11.2020 FEPORT Sixth Annual Stakeholders’ Conference – Brussels
15.04.2020 EMPL Committee Meeting – Brussels
15-16.04.2020 ENVI Committee Meeting – Brussels
21.04.2020 TRAN Committee Meeting – Brussels
27-28.04.2020 ENVI Committee Meeting – Brussels
29-30.04.2020 TRAN Committee Meeting – Brussels
29-30.04.2020 EMPL Committee Meeting – Brussels
27-28.05.2020 ENVI Committee Meeting – Brussels
27-28.05.2020 TRAN Committee Meeting – Brussels
25-26.05.2020 EMPL Committee Meeting – Brussels
04.05.2020 ENVI Committee Meeting – Brussels
28.05.2020 ETA Conference – Brussels
28-29.05.2020 ESPO Conference – Oslo
09-11.06.2020 TOC Conference – Rotterdam
24.06.2020 European Environmental Ports Conference – Rotterdam