Sunday, January 29, 2023

EU measures threaten to ‘turn back the clock’ at port of Tilbury

THE European Parliament has voted to approve port services regulations that are designed to address restrictive practices at EU ports.

Despite 35% of MEPs backing the UK port industry’s call to reject the proposed regulation, attempts to exempt the country’s predominantly privately run ports were defeated.

Jacqueline Foster MEP, spokesman for Conservative Transport, said: “I am very disappointed that our sensible proposals which recognise the unique status of British ports were not supported.”

Conservative MEPs will continue to oppose the measures that they argue will turn back the clock at British ports.

Ms Foster MEP explained: “While introducing much needed reforms in the heavily subsidised European state-owned sector, this report is overly bureaucratic for our UK system of privatised, market driven ports and threatens to take us back to the days of restrictive practices and the old Dock Labour Scheme.”

The report will now be subject to negotiations between the Parliament, Member State transport ministers and the European Commission.

Fresh negotiations will aim to agree a new version of the proposed regulation, the UK Major Ports Group (UKMPG) welcomed the strong support from many MEPs across the EU which backed its position.

James Cooper, chair of UKMPG, said: “We will continue to work with our Government, our colleagues across the whole UK port industry, our MEPs and our allies from across the EU, to defend investment jobs and growth.”

“We will build on the support we have already secured in the European Parliament and remain confident that this unwanted, and unjustified, piece of legislation will ultimately be defeated.”

Conservative MEPs have voiced their particular concerns over the regulation imposing more bureaucracy on small UK ports, and therefore forcing companies to take over a port contract and employ the staff of a previous contractor.

“Since Margaret Thatcher put privatisation proposals in place in 1981, British ports have become some of the most successful in the world and have made a major contribution to the UK economy and provided stable, high quality jobs,” added Ms Foster MEP.

She concluded: “I will not support anything that would jeopardise that success. We believe competition between ports, not prescriptive regulation on their internal operations, is a greater driver of efficiency.”

“I hope that when this goes back to the European Council the UK will hold its line as we will do everything we can to try and reverse these damaging measures."

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