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Vice-President of the European Commission
Europe's ports: a vital gateway to the rest of the world
23 May 2013
Today I want to talk to you about seaports.
3.7 billion tonnes of cargo pass through Europe's ports each year. They are a vital gateway to the rest of the world. But port operations are complex – goods have to be loaded and unloaded, a pilot has to guide the ship into and out of the port. A mooring has to be found. And customs formalities have to be observed. And after all that, goods need to make their onward journey by rail or road or inland waterway.
A small number of our ports are very good at this. In fact the top 3 of them – Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg – handle 20% of all goods.
However, this presents transport operators with major challenges.
On top of all this, seaborne trade is growing very fast – a 50% growth is predicted by 2030.
And the nature of the trade is changing. The new generation of container ships can carry up to 18,000 containers. Placed on trucks, they would stretch in a single line from Rotterdam to Paris!
Europe's ports have to adapt.
Faced with these challenges they need to:
That's why we are making new proposals today.
We are targeting just over 300 key European seaports. Between them they account for 96% of all international and intra-EU freight.
We are proposing:
We want to help our ports to move into the 21st century. That way they can deliver a better service to European industry and Europe's economy.