The significance of Europe’s ports
Europe as a whole has more than 1,000 seaports. It is significant that the large majority of these ports are small and mediumsized: there are 700 ports which each handle less than one million tonnes per year. At the other end of the spectrum are about ten mega-ports which handle more than 50 million tonnes per year. In terms of direct employment the European port sector represents more than 350,000 jobs.
The major ports of Europe have witnessed a tremendous increase in traffic over the past 20 years. This trend is expected to continue for the future, especially for container traffic where strong growth figures will remain. This development is mainly caused by the fast growth of the Asian markets and more in particular by imports from China.
To accommodate this growth, European ports need to invest in new infrastructure capacity. One major bottleneck in that respect is the legal uncertainty created by the application of EU environmental rules. Major port development projects such as the recently opened Deurganckdok in Antwerp and the future Second Maasvlakte in Rotterdam have all encountered substantial delays because of this. Procedures involved are very lengthy and cumbersome and there is an urgent need for more efficiency…
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