Europe's ports are vital gateways, linking its transport corridors to the rest of the world. 74% of goods entering or leaving Europe go by sea, and Europe boasts some of the finest port facilities in the world. Ports also play a crucial role both in the exchange of goods within the internal market and in linking peripheral and island areas with the mainland. But ports are not only great for moving goods around, they also generate employment; 1.5 million workers are employed in European ports, with the same amount again employed indirectly across the 22 EU maritime Member States.

Nevertheless the sector is facing major challenges in terms of hinterland congestion, traffic growth and investment. The EU needs good performing ports across all maritime regions. Bottlenecks in ports and their hinterland due to the lack of high quality infrastructure or low performing port services result in congestion and extra costs for shippers, transport operators and consumers.

The new guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) have identified 329 key seaports along Europe’s coastline that will become part of a unified network boosting growth and competitiveness in Europe's Single Market. The Connecting Europe Facility financial instrument will provide up to € 26 billion to support transport infrastructures, including ports and connections of port with the hinterland, for the period 2014-2020.

The Commission adopted on 23 May 2013 an initiative aimed at improving port operations and onward transport connections at these 329 key seaports. This initiative proposes an integrated strategy combining legislative measures and non-legislative measures.

Read more

Ports: an engine for growth. Where we’re headed one year on.

Ports 2030: gateways for the trans-European transport network.

European ports: an engine for growth.

Transport infrastructure is the backbone of Europe's economy. Discover the TEN-T maps and country factsheets.
Trans-European transport network: TEN-T core network corridors.

Source: European Commission