Port Services Regulation is ‘ill-conceived’, says ports chief

Industry Database

The Port Services Regulation (PSR) is “ill conceived, barely thought through and a one stroke brush approach across Europe to impose what they call transparency and regulations to make ports more competitive”, PD Ports’ chief executive Frans Calje told Port Strategy, adding that the reality is, however, “that one size doesn’t fit all”.

Mr Calje noted that within the UK, 75% of the ports are privatised: “There’s a huge commercial endemic behind it. We do not get any funding from anybody; we have to do it by ourselves, which makes us extremely competitive, and to layer over the regulations that are being drafted is madness.”

He added that the PSR was anti-competitive for privatised ports in the UK: “Try to compare ourselves to the port of Rotterdam, which is 50% owned by the state and 50% owned by the city of Rotterdam. The port authority will pay for the basic infrastructure that is actually the port, like they have with Maasklavte II, for example.

“If we wanted to do something similar to that, the UK government won’t finance it so we would have to find that equivalent amount of money in commercial terms because it’s not state backed so it will be incredibly expensive to us. Actually then, you’re not on a level playing field with Europe. You’re imposing this one size fits all approach to all ports when the level playing field isn’t there to begin with.”

While the UK is in the process of leaving the EU, the regulation will come into force before the exit has been finalised, meaning that UK ports will need to meet the requirements of the legislation for at least a few months, and potentially for some time after.

“My concern is with the ability for the EU and UK to come to any sensible agreement within 24 months. It’s not a lot of time. All it takes is someone, somewhere in Europe to say, ‘I don’t like that’. If we can’t agree coming out the UK, whatever terms, whatever agreements, it creates this massive amount of uncertainty in the market that all of us can do without,” he said.

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