FEPORT: About the added value of consultations

Very often when people in the capitals criticize “Brussels”, the legislative machinery, the “pseudo” lack of transparency preceding the elaboration of new pieces of legislation or policies, Brussels lobbyists, staff of trade associations, MEPs as well as supporters of EU institutions reply by referring to the methodology, impact assessments and consultations that are conducted prior to any adoption of pieces of legislation.

These procedures, which are often lengthy and energy consuming both for institutional and non-institutional parties, are nevertheless necessary and the best antidote against Euroscepticism. What is even more efficient against the criticisms of those who do not trust the EU’s transparency and its democratic processes are the outcomes of the consultations when they take into account the views of the majority of those who replied and effectively preserve the EU general interest, i.e. the interests of the majority of EU businesses, citizens and consumers. On the contrary, when political decisions contradict the views of the majority of the responders to a consultation, they provoke deep misunderstanding and frustration among those who played the game and provided evidence that justify another type of political decision from the regulator.

This has been the case for the Block Exemption Regulation for liner shipping which has been prolonged without any single modification while most of the representatives of the maritime logistics chain – with the exception of liner shipping interests – called for a modification of the Regulation. To all those who have been disappointed by the decision regarding the prolongation of the BER, the EU Commission replied that in two years there will be once again another consultation with the possibility to comment, provide data etc…

But for those who are benefiting from the exemption as well those who are penalized by the decision to prolong the BER until 2024, will the market be the same? Will this decision in effect facilitate more consolidation in the shipping sector? Will it accelerate vertical integration as we see it already? Will the other actors of the maritime logistics chain who do not benefit from the exemption to cartel rules survive?

2024 might not seem so far for regulators, but for companies and workers it is a very long period of time during which very harmful developments may occur … And this will feed the resentment of those who are already critical of EU methodology but more importantly – and unfortunately – swell the ranks of those who will experience the negative effects of the prolongation of the BER in their operational daily life…

Within few days, after compiling many replies to the consultation regarding the long awaited Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, the European Commission will deliver its communication. The exercise which aimed at gathering the views of a variety of stakeholders had the merit to extricate many of us from the heavy and anxiety-provoking COVID-19 context to imagine how we can recover and build a more sustainable and smart transport sector.

For port stakeholders who will be strategic partners in the decarbonatization and the digitalization of the maritime and port ecosystem, the key words that we hope to read in the communication are cooperation, voluntary environmental charging, dissemination of good practices in terms of vessel call optimization and data sharing.

As we enter December, hopes and wishes are possible…
Source: FEPORT

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