2021 February 25 16:19
Baltic Ports Organization’s (BPO) latest report, titled “Comprehensive Ports in the Baltic Sea – an important role for short sea shipping, people mobility, industries & Blue Economy” has been presented during today’s webinar on the role and importance of comprehensive ports.
There are 87 ports located in the Baltic Sea region, which are included in the TEN-T network. Out of these, 65 are classified as comprehensive ports and 26 are Member ports of the BPO. But what are they exactly?
In order to be classified as a comprehensive port within the TEN-T Network, a port must meet one of the following conditions: total annual passenger traffic volume exceeds 0.1% of the total annual passenger traffic volume of all maritime ports of the Union; the total annual cargo volume exceeds 0.1% of the total annual cargo volume handled in all maritime ports of the Union; the maritime port is located on an island and provides the sole point of access to a NUTS 3 region in the comprehensive network; the maritime port is located in an outermost region or a peripheral area, outside a radius of 200 km from the nearest other port in the comprehensive network.
Despite their size, comprehensive ports are crucial for a number of areas. One of the examples is short sea shipping, with the number of calls by ferry & roro, as well as container operators in the Baltic Sea region (BSR) being far lower in core ports than their smaller compatriots. As such, comprehensive ports play a key role in assuring smooth cargo flows and allowing for the diversification of transport channels, as exemplified by the Ports of Ystad, Helsingborg and Hanko.
For these very reason, they are also vital for local industries, serving as the gateway to the rest of the region, refected clearly in the operations of the Port of Sköldvik, catering to the needs of the local refinery and Ports of Raahe and Oxelösund, supporting the local steel industry.
Due to them having a smaller share in the overall handling of cargo, comprehensive ports are also the perfect environment for innovation and implementation of green technologies. Examples provided in the report feature the Ports of Roenne and Sassnitz-Mukran, making great strides in offshore wind technology, as well as Kiel, one of the leaders in terms of digital transformation and emission reduction.
The main idea behind the report is not only to clearly state the role of comprehensive ports, but also make national governments, policymakers and other industry stakeholders aware of the various challenges they have to face. As such, the report features a number of recommendations prepared by BPO’s Comprehensive Ports Working Group and further discussed during the webinar.
These include: the need for a larger share of funding allocated to the comprehensive network in order to help close the gap to the core network; strengthening of comprehensive ports participation in the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF); simplification and streamlining of funding application procedures; increasing the level of involvement by national governments in the development of comprehensive ports; balancing the distribution of funds along the whole financing period; more transparency in the evaluation procedures for CEF applications.
While it may not be visible at first glance, comprehensive ports are a key component of the whole transport and logistics network. In order for the whole chain to function properly, they require adequate support and recognition. In the long run, directing the majority of funding towards ports already finding themselves in a strong position is going to have negative consequences for all industry members.