Ports

Transport written question – answered on 5th March 2014.

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Photo of Austin Mitchell Austin Mitchell Labour, Great Grimsby

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport with reference to the European Commission's publication COM (2013) 296, what representations he has received from British ports on the Commission's proposed regulation on ports; what representations he has made to the European Council on that proposed regulation; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport

I have had numerous discussions and exchanges of correspondence with British ports and their trade associations on this proposed regulation. DFT officials are working in close liaison with the ports and shipping industry on analysis of proposed amendments and assessment of impacts, and draft text options.

This matter has yet to be discussed in detail at Transport Council, but I have taken opportunities to discuss with several of my ministerial counterparts matters of mutual concern about the potential impact of the regulation on competitive ports, and I will continue to do so.

Council working party discussions have taken place on 18 and 25 February and further such meetings are currently scheduled for 18 and 25 March. Officials have also briefed Members of the European Parliament on concerns about the details of the Proposal, and have discussed these with Commission officials. The general aim, which the Government broadly shares with the UK ports and shipping industry, is to promote drafting improvements that would avoid imposing unwarranted burdens on competitive, unsubsidised ports and service providers such as those in the UK, while promoting greater financial transparency, fairer competition and market access where subsidy does occur and where competition between ports is restricted.

It is expected that the Greek presidency will report on progress to the Transport Council on 5-6 June. Meanwhile the UK will continue to engage in negotiations with a view to avoiding any unnecessarily burdensome regulation of a successful, efficient and vital sector of the economy. At the same time, we will support greater financial transparency for publicly-funded ports and a more rigorous approach to state aids in the ports sector.

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