Recent economic situation has put pressure on developing the ports’ activities and opening the market. European Commission has published a new regulatory initiative to establish a framework on market access to port services and to establish greater financial autonomy and transparency. The actions are targeted across 319 trans-European network (TEN-T) ports. The concerns behind the initiative are unfair competition through restrictive practices and market entry barriers. The aim of the initiative is to improve the transparency of financial support and to hinder the public support which could distort competition between the ports.  At the same time the pricing principles related to the infrastructure of the ports are regulated.

Member state must appoint a supervisory body in order to monitor the application of the regulation.  Addition to this, a port users’ advisory body have to be established in each port. The body will comprise representatives of cargo and vessel owners and other port users. This mechanism is seen as an attempt to move towards a customer-focused approach. The initiative has been criticized to create unnecessary procedures and delays. The European Sea Ports Organisation fears that some of the proposed procedures might have negative impact to ports’ ability to invest.

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