Patrick Verhoeven, Secretary General of European Community Ship-owners Association (ECSA), has come to the conclusion, based on his own PhD research, that European seaports which have outgrown their local and national importance should focus on making port authorities independent, either through corporatisation or privatisation.
The conclusion is partly based on an assessment of the reform of the Rotterdam Port Authority, which became a limited liability company in 2004.
Patrick Verhoeven said: “Independent management will optimise the possibilities for port authorities to contribute to the competitiveness of their ports. It will increase their ability to invest, by having more autonomy over their own revenue sources, attracting new share capital and having better access to private funding.
“It will also enable far-reaching forms of cooperation with other port authorities, in order to widen their influence over logistics chains.”
Verhoeven continued: “Successful corporatisation however implies more than just changing legal status. A genuine corporate culture must be introduced, whereby supervisory board and management act in the interest of the company. Post-reform governance, including regulatory oversight, should not be neglected.
“Port authorities and governments should share the objective that reform is to improve competitiveness of ports. This will not just serve the ports concerned, but the European port system as a whole. This is why the European Union should be an objective ally that helps in keeping port management reform processes on track.”
In addition to exploring the future scope for port management reform in Europe, the study of Patrick Verhoeven revisits the role of port authorities, identifies trends in port management and governance and assesses the economic impact of port management reform.