About the added value of consultations


Very often when people in the capitals criticize “Brussels”, the legislative machinery, the “pseudo” lack of transparency preceding the elaboration of new pieces of legislation or policies, Brussels lobbyists, staff of trade associations, MEPs as well as supporters of EU institutions reply by referring to the methodology, impact assessments and consultations that are conducted prior to any adoption of pieces of legislation.

These procedures, which are often lengthy and energy consuming both for institutional and non-institutional parties, are nevertheless necessary and the best antidote against Euroscepticism. What is even more efficient against the criticisms of those who do not trust the EU’s transparency and its democratic processes are the outcomes of the consultations when they take into account the views of the majority of those who replied and effectively preserve the EU general interest, i.e. the interests of the majority of EU businesses, citizens and consumers. On the contrary, when political decisions contradict the views of the majority of the responders to a consultation, they provoke deep misunderstanding and frustration among those who played the game and provided evidence that justify another type of political decision from the regulator.

This has been the case for the Block Exemption Regulation for liner shipping which has been prolonged without any single modification while most of the representatives of the maritime logistics chain - with the exception of liner shipping interests - called for a modification of the Regulation. To all those who have been disappointed by the decision regarding the prolongation of the BER, the EU Commission replied that in two years there will be once again another consultation with the possibility to comment, provide data etc…

But for those who are benefiting from the exemption as well those who are penalized by the decision to prolong the BER until 2024, will the market be the same? Will this decision in effect facilitate more consolidation in the shipping sector? Will it accelerate vertical integration as we see it already? Will the other actors of the maritime logistics chain who do not benefit from the exemption to cartel rules survive?

2024 might not seem so far for regulators, but for companies and workers it is a very long period of time during which very harmful developments may occur … And this will feed the resentment of those who are already critical of EU methodology but more importantly - and unfortunately - swell the ranks of those who will experience the negative effects of the prolongation of the BER in their operational daily life…

Within few days, after compiling many replies to the consultation regarding the long awaited Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, the European Commission will deliver its communication. The exercise which aimed at gathering the views of a variety of stakeholders had the merit to extricate many of us from the heavy and anxiety-provoking COVID-19 context to imagine how we can recover and build a more sustainable and smart transport sector.

For port stakeholders who will be strategic partners in the decarbonatization and the digitalization of the maritime and port ecosystem, the key words that we hope to read in the communication are cooperation, voluntary environmental charging, dissemination of good practices in terms of vessel call optimization and data sharing.

As we enter December, hopes and wishes are possible…




06.11.2020 European Maritime Transport Environmental Report

The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and the European Environment Agency (EEA) are working together on the first edition of the European Maritime Transport Environmental Report (EMTER). This report will provide an initial assessment of the environmental performance of the maritime transport sector in the European Union and will be published in the first half of 2021.

emsa emter report

A written consultation process with all relevant stakeholders on the draft report will take place between November 18th and December 23rd 2020.

During this process, EMSA and EEA will also organise a stakeholder consultation workshop to present the draft report and facilitate discussion with the stakeholders. The online workshop will be held virtually on 2 and 3 December (two half days) together with the maritime and environmental administrations, industry associations, non-governmental organisations, the European Commission, EEA and EMSA.

During the EMTER Stakeholder Consultation workshop, the objectives of the EMTER report will be presented as well as the main highlights, and there will be the opportunity to provide input and actively participate and contribute to the discussion.


10.11.2020 ESPO launches its 2020 environmental report

On the 10th of November, ESPO organized a webinar to launch its 2020 environmental report. This report is based on data provided by 100 ports active in the EcoPorts network, which are based in 18 different EU Member States.

The report gives an overview of the top 10 priorities of European Port authorities. Topics such as energy efficiency, climate change and air quality showed to be some of European ports’ most important ambitions.

The report also outlined ports’ actions regarding environmental management. For example, it was highlighted that positive developments had taken place concerning port authorities’ communication of their environmental policies. Moreover, OPS is increasingly present in European ports, although at a lower voltage as compared to 2019, while LNG is provided in one third of the European ports with 22% of the participating ports being involved in LNG infrastructure projects.

espo envi report

Ports are increasingly active in the field of climate change mitigation, an effort that makes sense as around 50% of European ports face climate related challenges such as floods, storms, etc...

The presentation of the Environmental report was followed by a panel consisting involving Eamonn O’Reilly (Chair ESPO), Daniel Mes (Member of the cabinet of Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans) and Rosa Mari Darbra (Associate Professor Polytechnical University of Catalonia).

Daniel Mes added that the three top priorities of ports listed in the environmental report (energy efficiency, climate change and air quality) correspond to local communities’ expectations from ports. Ports, in his opinion, play a key role in some of the European Commission’s Green Deal priorities, for example, when it comes to hydrogen and offshore. For the European Commission, ports are a natural starting point in any effort to increase the deployment of alternative fuels, due to their role as key infrastructure providers. Ports, Daniel Mes explained, will have an important role in the Strategy for Sustainable and Smart Mobility, which should be released on the 9th of December.


10.11.2020 Next MFF and recovery package political agreement

On the 10th of November, the German presidency of the Council and the European Parliament’s negotiators reached a political agreement, thereby securing the Parliament’s consent to the next multiannual financial framework, EU’s long-term budget.

Following the intensive consultations with the Parliament and the Commission that have been underway since the end of August, the agreement complements the comprehensive financial package of 1,824.3 billion € negotiated by EU leaders in July. This package combines the next multiannual financial framework – 1,074.3 billion € – and a 750 billion € temporary recovery instrument, Next Generation EU (in 2018 prices).


The political package agreed with the Parliament includes:

  • A targeted reinforcement of EU programmes, including Horizon Europe, EU4Health and Erasmus+, by 15 billion € through additional means (12.5 billion €) and reallocations (2.5 billion €) in the course of the next financial period, while respecting the expenditure ceilings set out in the European Council conclusions of 17-21 July.
  • More flexibility to allow the EU to respond to unforeseen needs.
  • Greater involvement of the budgetary authority in the oversight of revenues under Next Generation EU.
  • Higher ambition on biodiversity and strengthened monitoring of biodiversity, climate and gender related spending.
  • An indicative roadmap towards the introduction of new own resources.

The deal will now be submitted to Member States for endorsement together with the other elements of the next multiannual financial framework and recovery package, including the general regime of conditionality for the protection of the Union budget, on which the Council presidency and the Parliament’s negotiators reached a provisional agreement on 5 November.


12.11.20 2021 EU Year of Rail

On the 12th of November, the European Council and the European Parliament reached a provisional agreement that will support a range of events and other initiatives designed to increase the proportion of people and goods travelling by rail, in line with the European Commission’s initiative to give train travel extra attention over the course of next year as part of its Green Deal.

The Year of Rail plan aims at promoting railways as a sustainable, innovative and safe mode of transport, which can guarantee essential services even during unexpected crises. This has been shown by the strategic role played by rail in maintaining crucial connections during the COVID-19 pandemic, for the transport of both people and essential goods.

Other objectives for the year will include raising awareness of the cross-border European dimension of rail transport and increasing its contribution to the EU’s economy, industry and society.

The Commission will be asked to consider launching two feasibility studies. The first study should look at designing a “European label to promote goods”, while the second would consider a “rail connectivity index”, along the lines of a database that already exists for aviation links.

Moreover, 2021 will be a pivotal year for rail transport as it is set to be the first full year during which the rules of the Fourth Railway Package apply, thus opening the rail market and reducing administrative costs.

The provisional agreement is subject to approval by the Council. The presidency intends to submit the agreement for endorsement by the Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee in the near future.


12.11.2020 2020 Report on Combined Transport in Europe

On the 12th of November, UIC, in collaboration with UIRR, published the eighth biennial report providing a comprehensive overview of the current situation of Combined Transport in Europe in 2020.

The 2020 edition of the Report on Combined Transport compiles up-to-date information on rail/road Combined Transport volumes for the year 2019 for all market segments and gathers the market participants’ assessment on market structures and future developments.

2020 report on combined transport in europe

Amongst other topics and general market information, the report provides:

  • An overview of the increasing modal split of rail freight and Combined Transport in European freight transport (180 bn km/year in 2019).
  • The increasing volumes and market shares of the Combined Transport with a growth of more than 50% in the last decade – including detailed analyses of development in individual market segments.
  • The market structure and actors involved in Combined Transport operations.
  • The economic importance of the CT market with a market volume of more than EUR 6 bn, yet the current challenges.
  • Market actor’s assessment on main challenges of future European CT market.
  • A detailed overview of national CT-support programmes in Europe.
  • The expected impact of the coronavirus on transport volumes and costs.
  • A growth forecast for the Combined Transport volume.

In addition, the 2020 report particularly focusses on the presentation of disparities between selected regions in Europe, along with intermodal loading units (ILU), which are examined with regard to their structure and use in Combined Transport. Furthermore, the study gives an overview of the role of terminals in the CT chain, their capacities and services offered.


12.11.2020 Freight Forwarders Forum 2020

On the 12th of November, FEPORT participated to CLECAT’s web-based annual Freight Forwarders’ Forum, under the theme “Logistics Put to Test at Times of Crisis”, which focussed on sustainable logistics, the future EU-UK relations and the need to keep global supply chains running at the time of COVID-19 crisis. 


The first session of the day focused on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on liner shipping and in particular on the level playing field between the actors of the maritime supply chain.

In his introductory presentation, entitled “More stability and predictability in liner shipping?”, Mr Stijn Rubens, Senior Consultant at Drewry, pointed at a risk of cost and service levels spiralling out of control. Explaining the COVID-19 capacity conundrum, he noted that carriers responded to the pandemic-induced demand collapse by an unprecedented wave of blanked sailings. Whereas capacity was restored by August, there was still 6.2% less capacity in 2020 from January to October, in comparison to 2019. Overall, Drewry analysis found that the direct cost implications of service unreliability for Asia-Europe trade amounted to a 19% increase (i.e. USD 500 per container extra), in comparison to 2019. However, there were large differences in reliability between different shipping lines and alliances, emphasising the importance of measuring carrier service performance.

In the following introductory presentation, Mr Olaf Merk, Project Manager for Ports and Shipping at the International Transport Forum, questioned whether EU policies were fit for purpose given the ‘new normal’ in liner shipping, increasingly characterised by vertical integration. He argued that pure liner shipping does not exist anymore, and that shipping has become a hybrid sector. Most major liner companies had integrated other activities, including terminal operations, freight forwarding and intermodal transport, aiming to provide door-to-door service. Nonetheless, the EU regulation did not take appropriate account of this phenomenon, perpetuating special regimes for carriers in terms of competition (i.e. Consortia BER) and thus allowing for joint capacity management, negotiation with suppliers and information exchange on volumes moved, average revenue per TEU earned, demand and supply forecasts, reference costs per service or trade.

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The other sphere of preferential treatment of carriers related to state aid and taxation benefitting vertically integrated shipping companies, at the cost of forwarders, and creating incentive for carrier haulage instead of merchant haulage. The inclusion of certain ancillary activities in tonnage tax schemes creates market distortions throughout the EU. 

Mr Jens Roemer, Managing Director at a.hartrodt, representing the freight forwarding voice in the panel, noted that due to the current crisis the maritime supply chain had become extremely unreliable, and it appeared that the world trade was at the mercy of a few major shipping lines. He warned that the ‘new normal’ must come to an end as soon as possible and encouraged all stakeholders to work together by entering into a regular dialogue to make sure that the maritime supply chain becomes once again more reliable, predictable and resilient. Mr Roemer also stated that the privilege of the Consortia BER protection for shipping lines to exchange information and data was being used to compete with the forwarding industry on land-based services, with the latter unable to rely on similar protection. The development of vertical integration and digitalisation demonstrated clearly that the current competition rules were no longer fit for purpose. Moreover, the purpose and use of state aid must also be looked into, noted Mr Roemer, as funds made available to carriers may be used for investments in the land-side supply chain, allowing carriers to compete with forwarders, who may not have access to similar funds.

Mr Pyers Tucker, Senior Advisor Corporate Development at Hapag Lloyd, agreed with Mr Roemer that it was in the interest of all stakeholders, carriers included, to return to a more stable and reliable liner shipping market. The most worrying question was for how long the COVID-infused disruptions would continue into the future, considering that governments would be less and less able to keep supporting consumer spending. Therefore, the uncertainty about demand going forward into the next year had never been higher, he remarked. With respect to the vertical integration concerns, Mr Tucker believed that carrier attempts to expand into other sectors was a big strategic mistake, explaining why Hapag Lloyd was not going down that path and concentrating purely on ship sailing.

Ms Lamia Kerdjoudj-Belkaid, Secretary General at FEPORT, questioned the decision of the European Commission to prolong the Consortia BER and therefore the privileges for the shipping lines, as there was no data collected to see what the impact was on other parties in the chain, including the port services, terminals and freight forwarders. She expressed hopes that the review should start as soon as possible, especially in terms of data collection.

The second panel focused on the future economic partnership between the EU and the UK. It appears clear that free movement of goods between the EU and the UK will be disrupted regardless of whether a deal is reached between the parties; this will have severe consequences for freight traffic rendering customs formalities, potential levying of customs duties and non-tariff trade barriers unavoidable.

The third session focused on the reduction of emissions from logistics operations. The European Commission’s comprehensive long-term vision for 2030 and 2050 was presented, and participants identified the biggest challenges for SMEs in their journey towards decarbonisation and the needed forms of support for evolving customer demand and legislation.

Finally, during session four, panellists exchanged on the challenges which the air freight industry has been facing since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was highlighted that in light of the upcoming COVID-19 vaccines, air freight will likely shoulder a high portion of global traffic for the coming years. The industry would therefore need to be prepared for the import of vaccines, as well as for guaranteeing the necessary capacity, even at times of crisis.



12.11.2020 UNCTAD Review of Maritime Transport

On the 12th of November, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published its annual Review of Maritime Transport 2020, which focuses on the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on the industry.

As per UNCTAD projections, the volume of international maritime trade will fall by 4.1% in 2020 because of the COVID crises, which has also caused supply-chain disruptions, demand contractions and global economic uncertainty. These trends unfolded against the backdrop of an already weaker 2019 that saw international maritime trade lose further momentum. Lingering trade tensions and high policy uncertainty undermined growth in global economic output and merchandise trade.

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The pandemic has brought to the fore the importance of maritime transport as an essential sector for the continued delivery of critical supplies and global trade.

Along with other international bodies, UNCTAD issued recommendations and guidance, emphasizing the need to ensure business continuity in the sector, while protecting port workers and seafarers from the pandemic.

Moreover, the report outlines six priority areas for policy action to be taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the persistent challenges facing the maritime transport and trade of developing countries:

  1. Support trade so it can effectively sustain growth and development.
  2. Help reshape globalization for sustainability and resilience.
  3. Promote greater technology uptake and digitalization.
  4. Harness data for monitoring and policy responses.
  5. Enable agile and resilient maritime transport systems.
  6. Maintain the momentum on sustainability, climate-change adaptation and resilience-building.


13.11.2020 Dedicated Trade Contact Group Meeting on Brexit

With the Withdrawal Agreement expiring on the 31st of December 2020 and full Brexit hence approaching (be it with or without a deal), FEPORT Secretariat participated in a dedicated meeting of the Trade Contact Group with DG TAXUD on the 13th of November.

Ahead of this meeting, members of the TCG such as FEPORT had the possibility to table questions on any problem or unclarity regarding customs rules and procedures after Brexit.

During the meeting, DG TAXUD elaborated on those questions in a presentation dealing with customs processes and movements of goods after Brexit as well as the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol and the Withdrawal Agreement in place until the 31st of December of this year.


13.11.2020 Commission launches public consultation on ETS

On the 13th of November, the European Commission launched a public consultation on EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) revision, which will be open until the 5th of February 2021.

The Commission has proposed an EU economy-wide net GHG emissions reduction target of at least 55% below 1990 levels by 2030. To implement this plan, the Commission is proposing to revise the key relevant energy and climate legislation by June 2021.

This consultation aims at revising the EU Emissions Trading Directive, including the role of the EU ETS and its contribution to the overall climate ambition for 2030. The Commission is looking for inputs addressing the risk of carbon leakage, the possible extension of the EU ETS (such as transport, buildings and the maritime sector), the Market Stability Reserve, the use of revenues, and low-carbon support mechanisms.

This consultation on the EU ETS Directive is simultaneously published alongside consultations on the Effort Sharing Regulation, the LULUCF Regulation and the Regulation on CO2 standards for cars and vans.


17.11.2020 – Commission launches public consultations on RED and EED

On the 17th of November, the European Commission launched two public consultations: one amending the Renewable Energy Directive (RED); the second amending the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED). Both consultations will close on the 9th of February 2021.

By means of the input collected during the first consultation, the Commission wants to prepare a review of the RED to ensure that renewable energy contributes to the GHG emissions reduction target set by the 2030 Climate Target Plan, as well as to implement the measures proposed in the Energy System Integration and Hydrogen strategies, the Renovation wave initiative, and other initiatives adopted under the European Green Deal.

In regards to the revision of the EED, the Commission will undertake a two-step approach. As a first step, the evaluation will assess the existing framework of the Directive since its entry into force in 2012, except for those elements already revised in 2018. The findings of the evaluation will offer the basis for what needs to be streamlined, strengthened, added or changed in the Directive in order to address the remaining ambition gap in comparison to the 2030 EU energy efficiency targets, to deliver the increased EU greenhouse emissions reduction target of at least 55% by 2030, and to ensure synergies with the other Green Deal initiatives.


18.11.2020 IMO MEPC approves amendments to cut ship emissions

On the 18th of November, IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) has approved the draft new mandatory regulations to cut the carbon intensity of existing ships, building on current mandatory energy efficiency requirements to further reduce GHG emissions from shipping.

The draft amendments to the MARPOL convention would require ships to combine a technical and an operational approach to reduce their carbon intensity. This is in line with the ambition of the Initial IMO GHG Strategy, which aims to reduce carbon intensity of international shipping with 40% by 2030, compared to 2008. The MEPC also agreed on the terms of reference for assessing the possible impacts on States, paying particular attention to the needs of developing countries.  

The draft amendments were developed by the seventh session of the Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships (ISWG-GHG 7), and will now be put forward for formal adoption at MEPC 76 session, to be held during 2021.

The progress in developing the short-term measures follows the timeline as set out in the initial IMO GHG strategy. The strategy proposed that short-term measures should be those measures finalized and agreed by the Committee between 2018 and 2023.   


23.11.2020 5th meeting of the EMSWe data thematic team

On the 23rd of November, FEPORT participated in the fifth meeting of the EMSWe data thematic team. This expert group is responsible for drafting the data elements that will be reported under the European Maritime Single Window environment that will apply as of 15 August 2025. These data elements will be based on the reporting obligations that are already spelled out in the annexes of the EMSWe Regulation, and also data elements stemming from national reporting obligations will be added.

One contentious issue, also during this meeting, remains the inclusion of the checklist for the safe loading and unloading of bulk carriers, which FEPORT favours due to its contribution to the prevention of accidents involving dockers carrying out loading and unloading operations on board of bulk ships.


25.11.2020 Proposal for a Regulation establishing a Data Governance Act

On the 25th of November, the European Commission published a proposal for a Regulation establishing a Data Governance Act.  

This Act aims at facilitating the sharing of industrial and non-personal data across the EU and seeks to stimulate the re-use of public sector data as well as commercial data-sharing between businesses.  

The Regulation announces the establishment of a European Data Innovation Board which will focus on implementing the Data Governance Framework spelled out in the Regulation. This board will consist of representatives from Member States, the Commission and representatives from industries such as transport. This Board will particularly focus on establishing best practices for the re-use of data as well as cross-sectoral standardization.  

The Act contains a number of conditions that companies or organizations need to meet when they want to provide data-sharing services. For example, the data-sharing service should ensure structural separation between data-sharing and any other services the entity is providing. That is, the data-sharing service should be provided through a legal entity that is separate from any other activities of the company/entity.   

A notification procedure will oblige data-sharing services to notify their activities to the competent Member State authorities. Similarly, the Commission proposal would require Member States to designate competent authorities to take care of this notification framework.


26.11.2020 EPP exchange of views on the EU maritime transport sector and the EU maritime shipping industry

On the 26th of November 2020, EPP Transport Coordinator, Mr Marian Jean Marinescu, invited representatives of the maritime logistics chain to exchange about the future developments in the EU maritime transport sector and the EU maritime shipping industry.

On behalf of FEPORT, Ms Lamia Kerdjoudj-Belkaid, Secretary General, participated to the hearing and exposed the views of the private port companies and terminals.

“One of the rare merits of the COVID-19 crisis is that it has shed light on the essential nature of the work performed by all actors of the maritime logistics chain and how much they are interdependent. COVID-19 represents an opportunity to change the paradigm when thinking about maritime and port industries”, said FEPORT SG.

“The challenges of the 4th industrial revolution: decarbonization, digitalization, upskilling of workers, automation and use of artificial intelligence concern all industries and request a total mobilization from all parties: private, public, institutional, and non-institutional.

The change of paradigm means that we should collectively operate a disruptive move from former views which used to consider that the maritime sector is one main sector surrounded by ancillary ones while it is constituted from a variety of industries.

The world has changed, COVID-19 will leave its imprint. Consumption behaviours will not be the same and it would be dangerous to think that we shall come back to “Business as usual” and therefore continue with “silo thinking”…”, added Ms Lamia Kerdjoudj-Belkaid.

“In the future, port ecosystems are to become clusters for energy, transformation and manufacturing industries and nodes for multimodality.

Maritime and port industries are in many ways strategic partners in Europe’s ambitious decarbonization agenda and more particularly the shipping one.

Dissemination of good practices and real support to initiatives such as Vessel/Port call coordination centers involving cargo handling techno nautical services should be further encouraged by all regulators.

Innovative models, early movers and new business models will be crucial for the transition and should be rewarded through strong support.

Liberalization should not be an end in itself and competition rules which apply to the maritime and port industries should be fair within the EU market and efficient towards non-EU players”, concluded FEPORT SG.




FEPORT meetings

08.04.2020           Board of Directors – Remote

16.04.2020           Environment, Safety and Security Committee – Remote

22.04.2020           Social Affairs Committee – Remote

27.04.2020           Port Policy Committee – Remote

28.04.2020           Customs and Logistics Committee – Remote

06.05.2020           Board of Directors – Remote

25.06.2020           General Assembly – Remote

16.07.2020            Port Policy Committee – Remote

10.09.2020            Environment, Safety and Security Committee – Remote

14.09.2020            Port Policy Committee – Remote

17.09.2020            Board of Directors – Remote

25.09.2020            Social Affairs Committee – Remote

21.10.2020            Customs and Logistics Committee – Remote

04.11.2020             Port Policy Committee – Remote

05.11.2020             Environment, Safety and Security Committee – Remote

12.11.2020             Social Affairs Committee – Remote

18.11.2020             Board of Directors – Remote

03.12.2020            General Assembly – Remote

04.12.2020            Customs and Logistics Committee – Remote

13.01.2021             Social Affairs Committee – Remote

14.01.2021             Environment, Safety and Security Committee – Remote

10-11.06.2021        General Assembly – Hamburg TBC


Institutional meetings

07.12.2020                 ENVI Committee Meeting – Brussels



Other meetings

02-03.12.2020             EMTER Stakeholder Consultation workshop – Online event

14.01.2021                  SSDC Meeting – Online event TBC

16-17.06.2021             European Environmental Ports Conference – TBC


FEPORT Newsletter - November 2020