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STRASBOURG: March 09, 2016. The European Parliament has rejected for a third time European Commission plans to impose a unilateral Ports Services Regulation (PSR) on private and state-run ports to encourage competition.

The EC's proposal would have made free market access the general principle for the supply of port services, but Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) decided "a single system is not appropriate, as the EU port system includes many different models for the organization of port services".

arklow beaconAs a result they have amended the PSR proposal so that "existing port management models established at national level can be maintained" and concluded that ensuring transparency in the setting of port fees and access to public funds should help prevent price abuse and market distortions.

"We have been able to dismiss the forced free market access to port services. Especially for safety and security concerns, ports must be able to decide on the organization of port services," said rapporteur Knut Fleckenstein, vice chairman of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament.

"For the first time in the course of the long discussions on the port package, we have the ports, the terminal operators and the unions on board", he added.

The UK Major Ports Group (UKMPG), representing 70 percent of Britain's annual port tonnage, welcomed the Parliament's decision saying the PSR "is no longer just a British problem. It's a European problem".

Noting many MEPs from across the EU backed the UK position, the group said that while "there is still a long way to go" the PSR could ultimately be blocked.

UKMPG chairman James Cooper added: "We will continue to work with our government, our colleagues across the whole UK ports industry, our MEPs, and our allies from across the EU, to defend investment, jobs and growth. We will build on the support we have already secured in the European Parliament and remain confident that this unwanted (and unjustified) piece of legislation will ultimately be defeated."

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