European port connectivity: increased funding recommended

european port connectivity
© iStock/pugun-photo

The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) has lent its support to the European Parliament’s call for increased transport funding under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).

The European Parliament and Council reached a Common Understanding earlier this week on the future progress of the Connecting Europe Facility, which covers connectivity in the transport, energy and telecommunications sectors. In a statement released yesterday, ESPO welcomed the Common Understanding, with particular reference to Parliament’s recommended increase in transport funding of €33.5 billion over the 2021-27 period.

Isabelle Ryckbost, secretary general of ESPO, said: “The Parliament has given a strong signal in favour of an increased transport budget for the coming years. We embrace this decision and hope it will be confirmed in the further negotiations. Completing the TEN-T [Trans-European Transport Network] as foreseen is crucial for the future of Europe. But on top of that, enormous efforts are to be made in the field of decarbonisation and digitalization.  We also hope that the proposed transfer from the Cohesion Fund to CEF II will be safeguarded. Cohesion policy aims at reducing the economic, social and territorial disparities that still exist in the Union. It is in that respect fundamental that the Cohesion countries can step up their transport infrastructure in line with the TEN-T priorities that apply to the entire Union.”

ESPO expressed its regret over the Council’s redefinition of cross-border links, noting that ports, which are inherently international in nature, are essential for the implementation of cross-border trade. Maritime trade, as a crucial pillar of Trans-European Trade Networks, should be given more attention in order to achieve full integration of trade networks, the statement said.

Ms Ryckbost added: “Even if they are situated on the territory of one country, ports have a fundamental role to play in enhancing the cross-border connectivity within Europe and between Europe and the world. This cross-border impact should be better recognised in the future. Next to their role as transport nodes, Europe’s sea ports are nodes of energy, industry and blue economy. They are strategic areas for Europe’s growth. Port authorities are managing these complex port ecosystems and can be drivers of change well beyond the port area.”

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