Promoting the circular economy: ships and ports must both play their roles

The CoR position on “Clean Ports, Clean Seas – port reception facilities for the delivery of waste from ships” was adopted at the Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and EU Budget (COTER) meeting in Sofia yesterday. Rapporteur Spyros Spyridon (EL/EPP), 1st Vice-President of COTER, highlighted that maritime activity is an integral part of the circular economy and as such that waste reception and management should not enable ports to make a profit from their environmental obligations. He also called for ships to have the possibility to choose the company with which they want to collaborate for the collection of waste from a list of companies certified by the Port in order to reduce monopolies in this sector.

The proposed directive aims to bring European legislation into line with international treaty obligations, at the same time as clarifying the practical, legal and economic data and obligations regarding access to ships in EU ports. “The challenge is now to create incentives to deliver waste to ports, without placing a financial burden on ships or introducing additional procedures or other time-consuming provisions” according to the rapporteur. He further points out that port authorities must continue to have the necessary flexibility in setting port fees and charges.

Whilst taking a positive position on the increased clarity and the regional dimension of waste management by ports in the proposal, Councillor Spyridon also points out that the additional costs related to implementing the new directive in regional ports may cause an increase in their administrative costs and thereby negatively impacting competitiveness. He is also concerned that limiting the directive to EU ports may restrict the environmental impact and also cause further repercussions for competitiveness. “Efforts should be made to apply the directive more broadly to all ports in sea basins and neighbouring areas, by means of incentives and rewards and through more extensive programmes of cooperation in waste management” he stressed before calling on Member States, as far as possible, to set up a single framework of penalties, in order to prevent both unfair competition and “port-shopping”.

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