It is widely felt that in order to strengthen the competitiveness of European ports it is needed to ensure fair competition among ports and the sector is anew facing new and old challenges related to its long-term development.These challenges, and arguably the inability of the port sector and the European Union (EU) Member States to meaningfully react to them on their own, are at the basis of the renewed attempt of the European Commission (EC) to develop a uniform and coherent policy package for ports. The article provides a critical account of recent EU policy initiatives, focusing on the most recent attempt of the EC to address some of the issues facing the port sector. The article discusses some of the controversies arising from the new EC policy approach, which, although milder in its contents than the previous attempts, recalls the content of the previous policy proposals, especially in the areas of liberalization of port services; pricing; competition; administrative simplification; financial and operational autonomy; and state aid provisions. The article concludes that the EU not only does not go far enough but, by trying to introduce compromises and conditions of considerable vagueness and ambiguity renders its policy proposals practically useless, thus allowing Member States the freedom to continue unabated as before.

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Maritime Economics & Logistics
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Haralambides, H, & Acciaro, M. (2015). The new European port policy proposals: Too much ado about nothing?. Maritime Economics & Logistics, 17(2), 127–141. doi:10.1057/mel.2015.5