Comprehensive ports an important part of the TEN-T network
The Baltic Ports Organization’s (BPO) Comprehensive Ports Working Group held a meeting during this year’s Transport Week conference. The meeting, which took place on March 6th, 2018, at the Baltic Philharmonic’s Congress Centre in Gdańsk, focused on the role of ports within the TEN-T network, as well as the revision of TEN-T policy and featured a brief evaluation of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).
Key item on the meeting agenda was a report presented by Wojciech Sopiński, Policy Advisor at European Commission’s DG MOVE. Mr Sopiński evaluated the state of CEF, examining the current pool of funds still available until the end of the financing period (2020). CEF transport actions currently contribute 27,2 billion euros to transport infrastructure projects, covering all modes of transport with around 75% dedicated to the rail sector.
Questions surrounding the end of the financing period are manifold, with the main one regarding the state of the current projects and the future. 2018 is marked by an ongoing mid-term review of CEF transport projects from the 2014-2015 calls, with an in-depth assessment to evaluate the progress of individual actions.
There will be additional calls happening in 2018, of which one will be focused on deployment of alternative fuel infrastructure, with a total funding pool of 350 million euros and around 115 million euros available for regular CEF priorities, including for example the Motorways of the Sea programme.
There are also plans for an additional call related to horizontal topics of digitalization and multimodality.
Mr Sopiński said:
“MoS is a horizontal priority of the TEN-T and its horizontal nature requires equal attention spread between two core and comprehensive ports. Maritime links by definition connect core ports with peripheral regions of the European Union including important comprehensive ports within the Baltic basin.
MoS extends the TEN-T network far outside the land based core network corridors”.
Participants of the meeting also discussed various topics surrounding the CEF 2 regulation.
Continuing the discussion on evaluation of the CEF, Julia Ziółkowska, expert from the MOTUS Foundation, presented the first draft of the upcoming BPO report “Baltic ports in TEN-T policy. CEF instrument 2014-2020 – evaluation and recommendations for CEF 2”. The report will be released at BPO’s Lunch Debate, held in April, 2018, at the seat of the European Parliament in Brussels.
The report includes recommendations for the future CEF structure, intended for the European Commission and European Parliament, presented from the Baltic point of view.
Difficulty in application and a breakdown of fund distribution, of which most if not all is currently allocated to projects by core ports will be just some of the issues tackled in the paper. It will also touch upon the fact, that an overwhelming part of the funding has been steered towards rail-based projects, as well as the impact, which various environmental regulations currently in force in the Baltic region have on project planning and execution. A point that seems to have been neglected in the past.
Björn Bostrom, Chairman of the Comprehensive Ports Group and Managing Director at the Port of Ystad, said after the meeting:
“It is very important for the comprehensive ports to meet and share experience and to eventually be more recognized than we are at the moment. The comprehensive ports are very important for the core network. If there are no comprehensive ports, then there is no network. The network can’t cope alone and therefore it is key that the EU recognizes the ports in much greater capacity than it does currently. Core and comprehensive have to be viewed parallel to eachother”.
The next meeting of the BPO Comprehensive Ports Group has been scheduled for the September 5th, 2018 and will take place in Szczecin, a day before the annual Baltic Ports Conference.