The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) has called on the European Union to decide on a recovery strategy from the economic crisis Europe is facing as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.
Contingency plans have been activated to ensure that the ports remain fully operational during this crisis. “The first and most important priority of European ports is to help overcome the health crisis by ensuring the continuity of their operations and providing citizens, health services and businesses with the goods and materials they need,” stated ESPO.
To ensure that ports keep going and can help revamp Europe’s economy in the aftermath of the crisis, ESPO has proposed the following:
- European ports, their stakeholders and their customers must, when and where needed, be able to benefit from immediate relief measures developed at both the EU and national levels. This will help the port ecosystem to bridge the temporary lockdown and impact of some limited or non-functioning port stakeholders. This temporary support will enable European ports and related industries to catch up as swiftly as possible once the confinement measures are lifted.
- European ports ask EU policy makers to strengthen the existing support and financial instruments for infrastructure projects in ports, in particular the Connecting Europe Facility financial instrument, and to reinforce investments to allow European ports to play their role in the decarbonisation of Europe’s economy.
- Ongoing port and transport infrastructure projects which are delayed due to national lockdown measures (in particular the temporary stop of construction works) require flexibility on deadlines and should not fall under the use-it-lose-it principle. Guidance should be further developed and discussed with the relevant project managers involved in ongoing projects, taking away the current uncertainty in their planning.
- Ports with important passenger traffic and/or tourism-related activities (notably ferry connections but also cruise) suffer an even more significant drop in activity and must be given special consideration. The recovery of travel activities risks could take longer in view of the severe travel restrictions within and outside the EU. Initiatives aimed at restoring the trust in the sustainability, health and safety of maritime passenger traffic and cruises should be developed.