Geopolitics and climate regulations discussed at BPO Lunch Debate in European Parliament

May 26 2023

Geopolitics and climate regulations discussed at BPO Lunch Debate in European Parliament

This week the industry community gathered for a debate in Brussels to discuss the impact of the geopolitical situation in Baltic ports and the status of the legislation process of FIT for 55. Andris Ameriks, Latvian member of European Parliament and Vice-Chair of the TRAN Committee hosted the meeting with the presence of BPO Board, ESPO, ECSA and the representatives of European Commission, European Parliament and Baltic ports.

Andris Ameriks presented the recent situation in the Baltic region caused by the Russian agression on Ukraine. The war in Ukraine impacted the political discussion in European Parliament during last year. He underlined the need of a steady consultation between the politicians in Brussels and industry organizations like ports. Kimmo Naski, BPO Chairman highlighted the fact that the ongoing war in Ukraine has left and will continue to leave a terrible mark on the lives of those who fell victim to its tragedy. The sanctions on energy import from Russia, the destruction of, among others, logistics infrastructure, disruption in trade lanes, associated security issues – all this and more will have lasting consequences for all industries, including the port sector.

Kimmo Naski also said “Challenges are many and they are not limited only to the geopolitical shifts. While ports will undoubtedly have a great role to play in securing the necessary energy supply for the European Union, ports authorities will have many difficult decisions to make in the upcoming years. Combating climate change and emission reduction are some of perhaps the greatest and most impactful hurdles the maritime transport sector will have to overcome. Meeting the goals set by policymakers will require careful planning and numerous investments.”

Isabelle Ryckbost, ESPO Secretary General, underlined the need of understanding the meaning of EU ports nowadays. Ports are a hub of energy and their importance cannot only be measured anymore in tonnes, TEUs or ships only. Undeniably they also have a big role in energy transition in Europe. A need for investments in ports was also emphasized as the recent situation showed how important the ports are in securing energy supply for EU.

Moreover, the proposal for the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR) was discussed. Providing onshore power by ports is not as simply as the investment on quay. It is worth to remember many other issues associated with the investment process including lack of capacity at energy grid, price of energy and taxation, energy mix in given country. Ports cannot be left alone with such a process. Debate also focused on inclusion of maritime transport in European Trading System (EU ETS) and the risk of re-routing of maritime transport lines and competitiveness issue between EU and not EU ports.

Bogdan Ołdakowski, BPO Secretary General, summarizing the meeting said: “Ports proved last year how important they are for Baltic countries and European economy in energy security supply to whole EU. Baltic ports also support EU climate policies aiming at reduction of GHG emission. At the same time, here is the need of logic and common sense when implementing policies into regulations. A better understanding of the role of ports in whole energy transition is necessary”. He concluded: “As the future investment needs in port are huge, for example taking into account energy transition alone, increasing the EU budgets for ports in CEF3 is a must”