EU Ports Package Revival?

You would have thought that EU Commissioners, having suffered two overwhelming rejections of their Ports Directive last decade, would abandon their obsession with opening up port services to competition. Unfortunately that isn’t how the EU Commission works and the latest incumbent sitting in the Transport Commissioner’s chair, Siim Kallas, has decided that port operations need revisiting. This has been confirmed in a meeting of the Union of French Ports in Paris  by Mr. Theologitis, head of unit B3 “Ports and inland navigation “ on 4th October. Saying that the “soft law” implemented by EC Communication of 2007 had few results, he advocated a more hard approach towards 3 directions:

1. Strong integration of seaports

2. Reduction or elimination of formalities for the Short Sea Shipping;

3. Market access for:

Technical-Nautical Services


Terminal operations.

Of these both 2 & 3 directly affect pilots.

Item 2 is seeking to make PEC’s easier to obtain because the ship owners lobby has convinced the Commission that trade damaging blockages are occurring as a result of short sea trade ships having to queue up for their pilot! Already since last March a study into PEC’s has been underway ( supported by EU funding of course).

Item 3 includes pilotage under “Technical Nautical Services” and the EU philosophy is that TNS should be opened up to competition. Further to this a consultation process has now begun.

Fortunately, our association with EMPA means that pilots will once again submit their arguments against competition and EMPA President, Jacques Sauban, has already asked questions  of M. Theologitis who stated the following:

Conclusions of the stakeholders consultation of 2006/2007 will be taken into account;

Technical nautical services have old traditions but also some restrictive practices…

The study about PEC’s will explain for what reason PEC’s exist or not, how PEC’s are granted or not and why a pilotage fee is asked even with a PEC.

He agreed  that factors to take into account for granting PEC’s are linked to local knowledge, language knowledge, frequencies of call etc. Together with this study, the EU will analyse the following:

Who is entitled to be a pilot?

Has any private company the right to establish in any seaport ?

What are the public service requirements?

Is the right of establishment given to an association or to an individual?

What about “cream skimming” (cherry picking) of the market?

Although there isn’t yet a formal consultation on the issue, Jacques Saubin has already submitted documents detailing the arguments against competition and the liberalisation of PEC’s and the UKMPA will also be participating in the consultation. However, no member can afford to ignore this issue. The defeat of the last Ports Directive was aided considerably by individual pilots writing to their MEP.

MEP’s get very little mail so a sudden flurry of correspondence raising concerns over an issue tends to stir them into action so all pilots should make the effort to respond. Should you need any advice on the points to make, contact the UKMPA:

Contact your MEP here


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