EU Competition Rule Irks British Ports

 19 May 2017 09.22am

British Ports Association chief executive Richard Ballantyne has warned of ‘distortion of port markets’ that could result from the European Commission‘s adoption the new state aid law workaround for EU member states.

BPA represents 350 ports, terminal operators and port facilities accounting  for 96% of the UK economy.

Its executive has critiqued the General Block Exemption Regulations (GBER), which let complying EU member states get around seeking EU permission for making grants to companies.

It targets easing aid-granting for governments at national, regional and local level, letting them fund more job creators and SMEs, the EU said.

GBER weakens the state aid restrictions included in the EU’s Communication on State Aid Modernisation (SAM), adopted in 2012, intended to ensure investments boost competitiveness.

British Ports Association Chief Executive Richard Ballantyne said:  "While we fully appreciate the diverse nature of the European ports industry, we are disappointed that the revised GBER does not do more to limit potential market distortion.

“The GBER now effectively means that subsided dredging activity can be exempted from state aid restrictions. A number of British ports have voiced concerns about subsidies for both capital projects and maintenance dredging at European ports, potentially disadvantaging the UK’s private sector ports industry."

BPA further has released a statement supporting UK Prime Minister Teresa May’s commitment to ‘frictionless trade’ following the UK’s departure from the EU.

It wants to ensure that Brexit negotiations lead to an agreement where no additional burdens are placed at UK frontiers and borders, including for foreign fishing vessels.

 It also supports the construction of an ultra-deep water port for oil and gas platform decommissioning in the North Sea.

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