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EU ports activity
In the 2nd quarter of 2020, the gross weight of goods handled in the main EU ports decreased by 9.6 % to 755 million tonnes, which is a 17 % drop compared to the same quarter of 2019. This is the biggest decrease ever observed in a quarter and can most probably be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent restrictions put in place in the EU and worldwide.
In Q2 2020, the inward movement of goods made up 59.4 % of goods handled in the main EU ports, a share that did not change as compared to the previous quarters. Compared to Q2 2019, the inward movement of goods dropped with 17.6% to 448 million tonnes, while outward movements also decreased substantially by 16 % falling to 307 million tonnes.
Compared to the same quarter of 2019, all types of cargo registered substantial decreases in Q2 2020. Ro-Ro cargo has seen the largest decrease (-23.5%), followed by Dry bulk goods (-19.0 %), other general cargo (-17.3 %), liquid bulk (-16.3 %) and large containers (-13.1 %).
Short shea shipping tonnages to and from the main EU ports dramatically decreased by 18.4 % to 490 million tonnes, while deep sea shipping saw a fall of 14.5% to 255 million tonnes comparing Q2 2020 to the same quarter of 2019.
Comparing Q2 2019 to Q2 2020, national transport decreased by 28.8 %, while international intra-EU transport and international extra-EU transport dropped by 17.6 % and 14.4 % respectively. Seaborne transport with EU partner regions substantially decreased, for example, Africa (-18.4 %), America (-17.8 %), and Asia and Oceania (-8.2 %)
Source: Eurostat – Data extracted in December 2020
Private investment in ports
As private port operators commit themselves in capital intensive and long-term binding port investments, they expect from policy makers to create a business-friendly framework with stable rules and foreseeable effects.
Harmonized implementation is also crucial and constitutes the backbone of the certainty that private investors need to commit over the long term.
When planning future investments in the transport sector, Public Authorities should focus on cross-border projects, missing links, and bottlenecks, thus ensuring enhanced connection between ports and the hinterland.
Environment & Climate crisis
European institutions and national governments have recognised carbon emissions reduction as one of the key challenges that the world needs to tackle. All sectors of society have to engage this challenge and the transport sector is no exception.
The EU has set a target for the reduction of greenhouse gas emission by 20% compared to 1990 figures by 2020, 40% by 2030, and 80-95% by 2050.
Since 2012, container terminal operators which account for over 75% of all containers handled in the EU, have embraced this responsibility by developing a common methodology (EEEG/FEPORT Guidance for Greenhouse Gas Emission Footprint), which elaborates how terminals can calculate their emissions over a set period of time.
The EEEG/FEPORT Guidelines constitute a good basis for the work that has been recently launched within FEPORT to expand the methodology to other types of cargo and decrease the carbon footprint of operations which currently account for less than 10% of the total emissions in ports.
Digitalisation & Cyber security
One of the main barriers to further cooperation on digital innovation is a lack of a clear framework on data ownership.
Due to this legal void, companies are hesitant to share non-personal information as they are unsure of their rights regarding how their data is used or their obligations regarding data. Electronic exchange of B2G information has the potential to increase the efficiency of supply chains.
Cybersecurity is becoming an important issue faced by all sectors of society. EU and national regulators support industry solutions and cooperation to ensure security of European transport systems.
Standardisation & Safety
Global container operators and their equipment and solutions suppliers have established TIC 4.0 (Terminal Industry Committee 4.0) to work on industry standards that could improve the port ship interface communication.
This dialogue will allow a closer technical interaction between terminals and manufacturers, and facilitate the uptake of new technologies and innovations such as Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence etc… and the development of smart and sustainable operations in ports.
Furthermore, employers and employees in ports are working to contribute to the “safety first” mantra by developing a guidance on a number of specific issues to assist and support local health and safety practices in European terminals.
For the EU transport policy, the reduction of transport’s negative impact remains one of the main goals. With the Paris Agreement, the transition to a modern and low-carbon economy will need to accelerate.
Terminal operators are investing in intermodal solutions and reiterate their call to regulators to further develop combined transport, directly incentivising the shift from road freight to lower emission transport modes such as inland waterways, maritime and rail.
FEPORT and its members see a great potential in intermodal transport and in its means to optimize the performance of multimodal logistic chains by promoting the use of the most efficient transport mode.
By unleashing its potential, combined transport could really become a viable alternative to road transport, thus avoiding many problems such as environment, road safety and congestion.
The nature of port work, like other sectors, is currently evolving due to market forces and technological development.
The members (trade unions and employers) of the Sectoral Social Dialogue for Ports Committee are currently discussing these changes in the sector and should continue to receive support, as the appropriate European body for discussions on training related topics.
Continuous upgrading of equipment as well as the introduction of environmentally friendly measures imply the provision of adequate training to achieve successful results.