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Workshop Paper / Transport

1st European Maritime Transport Regulation Summary: Ports – how to regulate logistic interfaces?

Author(s): FINGER Matthias, BRAND-WEINER Ian, HOLTERMAN Martin

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The present document summarises the content of the presentations delivered during the forum as well as the ensuing discussion. This report is divided in two sections: summaries of the presentations and the synthesis of the debates.

Presentations were delivered by representatives of many different types of stakeholders, including logistics and shipping operators, associations of stakeholders, other relevant actors, as well as by knowledgeable academics. Each of them offered his/her view on the state, challenges and future of the port industry and its regulation, based on the following initial questions formulated by the organisers:

  • Who are currently the important actors in port regulation? And who should it be ideally? 
  • How do port regulations affect maritime and intermodal transport?
  • How does the regulation of connecting transport modes (e.g. rail, road) affect the port activities? 
  • What actions can regulators take to ease the connectivity between maritime and land transport? How should governments help to promote maritime practices? 
  • Which are the challenges laying ahead?

Ports have always been competitive with one another but now it is supply chains that compete for cargo and the economic development that accompanies port enterprises. Today’s competitive pressures come not only from business interests but also from shifting world trading patterns, maritime security threats, environmental regulations, and public and community demands and concerns including health and congestion. With all these issues, how are governments to help promote maritime practices at these logistic interfaces and maintain the competitive-driven efficiencies that private businesses bring to the transportation enterprise?

In a nutshell, the forum concluded that ports face a number of diverse and competing challenges, and trade routes show that economic activities know no borders. Ports are not just subjects of regulation, but also regulators themselves. Yet ports seem to be limited in their discretion; rather than acting, they are reacting to developments and requests by (integrated) transport operators. Due to the global nature of these challenges and the large number of interest groups, problems can be hard to solve unilaterally, meaning that supranational intervention is necessary, for example at the level of the European Union.