Exploring challenges and opportunities for small and medium ports in Jurmala
The Baltic Ports Organization (BPO) presented its approach to international cooperation and efficient exchange of best practices at the „Development of sustainable maritime economy“ conference, held in Jurmala, Latvia, on 3-4 April 2019.
The event, held under the full name of „Development of the sustainable maritime economy: opportunities and challenges for small and medium ports in the Baltic Sea Region“, was organised by the Council of the Baltic Sea States Expert Group on Sustainable Maritime Economy (CBSS EGSME) and highlighted the Latvian presidency in CBSS EGSME.
Several topics, essential to the concept of Blue Economy were discussed on the first day of the conference, followed by a more detailed and complex analysis of how ports and communities can benefit from working together during the second day.
BPO was represented by a member of the BPO Comprehensive Ports Working Group (CPWG), Villu Vatsfeld, the CEO of Saarte Liinid Ltd, part of the TEN-T comprehensive network in Estonia. BPO’s unique work as an efficient and modern international cooperation network has been underlined, activities which allow for its opinions and arguments to be highly valued on a governmental level, both among the member states and by the European Union itself.
A preliminary proposal has been put forward by the CBSS, stating that it would be of great benefit to coordinate the direction of future general activities, concerning participation in various events and workgroups in preparation for the next EU financial period under European Commissions DG Regio, DG Move and DG Mare, with the BPO and the CPMR. The next meeting could take place during BPO’s annual gathering, the Baltic Ports Conference 2019, to be held in Stockholm on 6-7 September 2019.
The participants of the event in Jurmala discussed a plethora of topics relevant to the further sustainable development in the Baltic Sea region (BSR), including laying out a strategy for sustainable Blue Growth in the BSR, especially in the context of the EUSBSR. The role of small and medium ports in the development of regions and municipalities has also been discussed, a topic of high importance for the BPO, which recognizes the impact smaller ports have on local economies.
The term “comprehensive port” has been introduced by the TEN-T policy and defines a port connected to the TEN-T comprehensive network, representing significant passenger and goods traffic volumes. Comprehensive ports in the Baltic represent ca. 21% of the port market in the region. They are crucial for short sea shipping in the Baltic but also in the rest of the European Union and facilitate trade between EU members.
There are about 76 comprehensive ports in the Baltic area. Therefore it is vital for the development of the region, that ports of all sizes enjoy a similar market and regulatory or policy conditions. Meeting the needs of comprehensive ports lies in the EU’s best interest.
Funding, an obviously important requirement for continuous competitiveness, has also been discussed in Jurmala, with the participants taking a closer look at the available financial tools and good practices for developing small and medium ports.
The event was supported by EC DG Mare.