ECG Maritime & Ports WG meeting in the Port of Piraeus

On 27th June, over 40 members of the ECG Maritime & Ports Working Group (M&P WG) gathered in Athens for a networking dinner with a magnificent view of the Acropolis, kindly sponsored by Neptune Lines.

The next morning participants travelled to the Port of Piraeus where they were hosted by the Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) whose Deputy Manager, Strategic Planning & Marketing kicked off the meeting with an overview of their ownership structure, assets, activities and investment plans. A frank discussion followed allowing ECG to raise several local issues which its members are experiencing, and PPA agreed to work together in order to find potential solutions in the near term. Towards the end of the meeting, a representative from the Chinese COSCO Shipping (the majority owner of the port) also joined and reiterated their willingness to maintain a constructive relationship with the FVL sector and its representative association.

Local shipping line Neptune Lines was next with an introductory presentation, jointly delivered by its Chief Operating Officer and a Technical Manager. Following an overview of the family-owned business, established in 1975, an in-depth technical description of Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (ECGS) with a focus an Open Loop Scrubbers impressed the audience and resulted in several follow-up questions on this important though politically sensitive technology – especially in view of the 0.5% Global Sulphur Cap which will come into force on 1st January 2020 and is universally considered to be a game changer for the entire industry (please see the dedicated ECG webpage on this issue which includes a Briefing Report).

As part of ECG’s efforts to maintain close links with the relevant sector federations in Brussels, the meeting continued with a guest presentation by ESPO – the European Sea Ports Organisation. Their Senior Policy Advisor for Port Governance, Intermodal Transport and Logistics, Statistics and Social Dialogue delivered an interesting overview of the association’s structure and membership, including a timely overview of the port sector’s priorities towards the new European Commission and Parliament for the 2019 – 2024 legislative period (the ESPO memorandum can be downloaded here). The speaker also highlighted a recent report on ‘The infrastructure investment needs and financing challenge of European ports’ (which can be downloaded here) as well as an ongoing sectoral campaign called “More EU budget for transportECG is also a signatory to this campaign). Finally, there was a specific focus on the EU’s Port Services Regulation 2017/352 which came into force in March this year and contains several relevant obligations for ports with regards to market access and financial transparency, including obligatory consultations with port users and their representatives or associations as well as the provision of an effective and independent complaint mechanism.

Towards the end of the meeting, the ECG Secretariat highlighted some of the association’s upcoming activities such as the 14th course of the ECG Academy and the ECG Conference on 17-18th October in Berlin – for both of which registrations are now open and filling up fast! After lunch, the group then joined a guided bus tour of the finished vehicles terminal of the port. The next M&P WG meeting will take place at the (inland) Port of Düsseldorf on 16-17th September, upon kind invitation by Frans Elbert Scheepvaartonderneming and MOSOLF Group, and will include a tour by barge on the river Rhine with visits to several FVL facilities there. Members of the M&P WG will soon be contacted with additional details, for more information on this and other future meetings of the group please contact Tom Antonissen.