ROTTERDAM: Traffic handled through European Union ports in 2012 was 3.7 billion tonnes – a drop of one percent year-on-year according to latest figures from the EU statistical office Eurostat.
With consecutive year-on-year decreases in the three last quarters of 2012, the overall port activity in the EU was slightly lower than the level recorded in 2005 says the agency.
Rotterdam (below), Antwerp and Hamburg maintained their positions as the three largest EU ports. The 20 largest EU ports accounted for 37 percent of the total tonnage of goods handled - with the port of Rotterdam accounting for nine percent.
The Netherlands continued to be the largest maritime freight transport country in Europe. At 543 million tonnes, the volume of seaborne goods handled in Dutch ports in 2012 represented 14.6 percent of the EU-28 total. The Netherlands was followed by the UK and Italy - with 13.4 percent and 12.8 percent respectively – then Spain and France. Ports in EU-candidate country Turkey handled 375 million tonnes of goods in 2012, placing it between Spain and France in terms of total volume of seaborne goods.
Compared with 2011, the largest increases in port traffic were Spain (13.1 percent) and Latvia (8.5 percent), while the largest decreases were in Croatia (-13.2 percent), Estonia (-10.3 percent) and Finland (-8.9 percent).
During the year, container traffic was the dominant type of cargo in Germany (44 percent) and Belgium (42 percent), but the largest volume of containerised goods was handled in Spain (133 million tonnes) and Germany (128 million tonnes).
Antwerp and Hamburg reported falls in the total volume of goods handled in 2012 of -2.4 percent and -0.7 percent respectively. By contrast, the Turkish ports of Aliaga and Izmit reported the largest growth in traffic volume at +13.2 percent and 10.2 percent respectively.
Rotterdam handled almost 11 million TEUs in 2012, a fall of 3.5 percent compared with 2011, while Hamburg handled almost nine million in the same year to keep its position as the second largest container port in Europe.