The PROPS Coordination Action project built on previous EU and national activities undertaken to promote and develop short sea shipping. In particular, PROPS aimed to work closely with the Short Sea Promotion Centres (SPCs) to develop a workable and replicable methodology that enhances their practical promotion activities in the fields of legislative, technical, and operational actions and to extend their operations to encompass inter-modal and co-modal transport.
The first step was to identify, from the SPCs, the best practices aimed at improving the integration of short sea shipping with relevant inland logistics chains. Particular attention was paid to the linkages of key supply chain stakeholders and the removal of bottlenecks. This initial activity was followed by a comprehensive analysis of the core processes that are, or need to be, carried out by SPCs, both individually and via the SPC European Network, to develop and utilise a business networking approach to enhance the current. practical work of the SPCs. One outcome of this activity was a set of performance indicators and benchmarks, linked to self-assessment tools and training programmes for the SPCs. Tools were developed to assist the SPCs improve their performance and their overall integration into European logistics business networks.
For instance, an e-booking system integrator, to improve access to commercial freight booking systems, was established. Both strategic and tactical support mechanisms were developed, and learning from past failures was formalised as a mechanism for improving the work of the SPCs to promote short sea shipping and intermodal transport. A media campaign, run by a large, professional media company established and tested the campaign in enhancing role of the SPCs and the perception by business of the need to increase the amount of freight transport by short sea shipping as an integral part of logistics supply chains.
The procedural approach adopted was based on the following six work packages that map the implementation of the project specific objectives:
- Analysis of SSS and SPC Promotion Requirements
- Strategic Supports for SSS Services and Co-modality
- SSS-related Tactical Supports to SPCs
- Enhanced SPC Supports for the promotion of SSS and Intermodality
- Workshops – Pilot Operation - Evaluation - Development plan
- SSS strategic marketing and promotional campaign
- Project Management
PROPS introduced an effective methodology to support intermodal stakeholders achieve the quality of services that end-users require and to confidently market these services throughout Europe. The elements comprising the methodology were:
- a set of Strategic Supports addressing competitive, operational and marketing strategies to convince shippers to shift to SSS services and to provide persuasive material that will enable a promotional campaign to improve the image of SSS;
- a set of Tactical Supports that facilitate the implementation of SSS promotion strategies, and
- a set of SPC-specific Supports aimed at increased efficiency of SPCs, focusing on processes for collaboration between SPCs and managing performance and risk indicators.
The PROPS project has identified the best practices aimed at improving the integration of short sea shipping with relevant inland logistics chains. Furthermore, the project has gathered the views from actors involved in the short sea sector on existing good practises but also still existing obstacles in short sea shipping. From this it became clear that greener transports are not only a fig leaf for operators to push their marketing, but that there is also a demand from the shippers' side, e.g. to make lifecycles of their products more environmental friendlier. Thus, it became like obvious that 'greener' services have to face strong economical requirements (for example transport time and costs) as there is, at least up to now, no willingness on the shippers' side to pay higher prices for environmental friendlier services with a worse service performance compared to 'less green' transport alternatives.
The discussion about a modal shift from road to sea has been ongoing for many years. Innovative solutions have been developed by different actors involved in the short sea shipping business. Efforts to increase the share of this transport mode have to continue. From all the gathered views, it can be concluded that policy makers have to ensure that the framework conditions are the same for all modes to achieve a level-playing field in the European transport system. While the commercial actors have to keep on developing innovative solutions for short sea services that combine competitiveness with environmental friendly characteristics.
Important issues are EU Transport Policy (as well as national action plans and strategies) in relation to:
- sustainable development;
- fairness of political decisions between the different modes of transport;
- changes of Shortsea shipping patterns in the Baltics;
- number of ports in the Baltic Sea Region;
- the trend towards larger vessels;
- increasing fuel price;
- the trend towards super slow steaming with transit times increasing;
- the Marpol Annex VI and the EU sulphur directive;
- challenges for competitiveness;
- ballast water convention;
- emission calculation systems as tools for policy making and tools for the industry to optimize and develop their logistics.
Governing bodies within the maritime industry, have emphasised the position of sustainable mobility at the heart of the European Union's Transport Policy. Also the need to turn the 'green challenge' into opportunities for the sector has been emphasised. Turning the green challenge profitable, requires innovative, cross-border co-operation between all the stakeholders.
However, the limits applicable in the Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECA's) being reduced to 1 % (since July 2010) from the current 1½ % raised strong objections, since it is likely to create a trade barrier within the European internal market.
Furthermore, concern was also raised by changes in the Shortsea shipping patterns in the Baltics along with growing vessels size and increasing fuel price, thus questioning the large number of ports in the Baltic Sea Region. Within the business, the fairness of political decisions regarding taxation, mainly, between the different modes of transport, was also strongly claimed for.
- An efficient and integrated mobility system: A Single European Transport Area
- Modern infrastructure and smart funding: Transport Infrastructure (territorial cohesion and economic growth)