Two recent policy decisions taken at European level were the main initiating points of this research study. First, the extension of the trans-European network to include main seaports. The inclusion of these 'interconnection points' is critical to the functioning of intermodal transport within a multi-modal infrastructure network. The TEN will increase the options in terms of alternative door-to-door intermodal logistics chains available to transport organisers and users, especially in the more competitive environment. Secondly, the Commission's Green Paper on Seaports and Maritime Infrastructure sets out the broader context of Community ports policy, with the focus on the issue of state aid and infrastructure charging. Here, the main question is whether and how an efficient pricing system and a cost recovery approach can be implemented in practice in the port sector, taking into account a variety of relevant objectives and constraints, including higher market based efficiency, increased cohesion, distributive goals, the development of short sea shipping, the improvement of safety and environmental performance.
The ATENCO project will make careful assessment of the positive and negative impacts resulting from the introduction of new charging and financing principles both on the European port system as a whole and on different types of ports (e.g. ports can be classified in terms of ownership structure, financing sources, traffic flow diversification, port functions).
The complex structure of potential impacts leads to three operational objectives to be achieved by this project:
- A comprehensive analysis performed by a number of leading academic experts on port policy and administration, in order to include all impacts that have been identified in the relevant port economics, academic and professional literature.
- An in-depth survey of 50 ports will investigate existing practices and the potential impacts of a new pricing system.
- A number of 'real world' simulations will be performed associated with introducing alternative pricing and charging schemes in the European port system.
The methodology will be:
- The identification of potential impacts. This will be achieved in a literature review on port pricing and a description of actual financing and pricing, together with a description of actual financing practices currently applied in EU ports, both of which will gain insights into the complex reasons for the existence of specific pricing systems in ports and therefore also into the main potential effects of changes in such systems.
- An in-depth survey of approximately 50 ports, will be undertaken to seek information on existing practices and the practical relevance of potential impacts, were these practices changed. The views of a number of key organisations such as ESPO, FEPORT and ECSA when assessing possible impacts, and those who will implement specific port financing and port charging systems in European ports, i.e. the port authorities themselves and the regional/national agencies responsible for administering financing and pricing schemes will be taken into account by the survey. ·
- A number of 'real world' simulations will be performed associated with introducing alternative pricing and charging schemes in the European port system. The results of these simulations will then be compared with experiences in countries where such schemes (e.g. cost recovery) have already been implemented.