Skip to main content
European Commission logo

Tools and Routines to Assist Ports and Improve Shipping

European Union
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Transport mode
Waterborne icon
Transport sectors
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

The importance of waterborne trade to European member states as a transport mode is widely acknowledged. However, the desire to expand this medium is constrained not least through the need to comply with environmental legislation and complex consents procedures.


Port development projects tend to be proposed in estuarine locations where the presence of protected habitats and species under EC Directives results in the requirement for rigorous analysis of environmental effects and protracted periods of negotiation and resolution of issues prior to achieving consent.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve consent for port developments and, despite the virtues of environmental protection and the need for sustainable development, it might be perceived that the balance between economic prosperity and environmental protection has shifted towards the latter. This makes it increasingly important to seek ways both to increase the efficiency of port operations and to recognise the important role of ports in the economies of member states.


The overall objective of TRAPIST has been to provide support tools that will enable ports to enhance the efficiency of their operations and to optimise the planning, management and use of their resources in order to provide cost-effective, safe and high quality services, thereby strengthening their global competitive positions.


The particular emphasis of TRAPIST has been addressing the issues encountered in small-to-medium ports (SMPs) in view of the special difficulties they can have in achieving efficiency goals, especially in servicing unitised cargo movements. These difficulties are not normally experienced by large integrated operations.

An additional objective set by the Commission has been to identify policy-related issues in relation to SMPs, and to suggest solutions that arise from the research.


In the project there were 12 Workpackages:

  • WP 01: The work package consisted essentially of two distinct parts. Firstly, in order to design tools and routines that can be applied in small and medium ports and will assist them to further their commercial and social aspirations it is necessary to examine the legal, regulatory and commercial frameworks under which all ports operate. In this context social aspirations include environmental and socio-economic considerations.
    The second part of the Work Package was to design two routines:

    • The framework for an Environmental Impact Pathway Routine, and
    • A Port Assessment Methodology

  • WP 02: In this workpackage current forecasting methodologies and practices were evaluated, which correlate macroeconomic data and traffic trends with the throughput of a specific port, and to propose methods to improve these methodologies
  • WP 03: This one


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy and Transport (DG TREN)
Type of funding
Public (EU)


Over a three year period, the project has developed and successfully tested in the case study cities Gdansk, Geneva, Genoa, Lisbon, Thessaloniki and Tel Aviv an approach to design consistent policies and strategies for sustainable urban transportation and land use, using the cornerstones of sustainability as the guiding principle: economic efficiency, environmental compatibility, and social equity. The approach developed was based on a broad integration of socio-economic, technological and environmental issues, within the interdisciplinary and integrative spirit of the Key Action.

SUTRA successfully used a scenario analysis approach, embedded in a framework of Indicators of sustainable urban transportation. A set of common scenarios has been defined across all case study cities (augmented by city specific scenarios representing local projects) using the basic framework of indicators to specify consistent change and development scenarios.

The four main scenarios have been defined as follows:

1. dynamic and virtuous (technologically and environmentally)

2. dynamic and vicious (emphasis on individual transport)

3. stagnant, aging, but virtuous (virtuous pensioners' city)

4. stagnant, aging, but vicious. Where the vicious scenarios favour individual transportation, i.e., cars.

SUTRA then used a cascade of simulation models to represent the individual scenarios of urban development. The core of the modelling system is a transportation model (VISUM) that describes an equilibrium-based solution to satisfy the transportation demand expressed in an origin-destination matrix given a transportation network and its capacities and constraints. The scenario, and in particular transportation demand and the market penetration of alternative transportation technologies are estimated with an energy systems optimisation

Policy implications

European ports are not the subjects of a defined and focussed policy. On the contrary, they are submitted to various policy areas such as transport, environmental protection, customs and electronic information. This is particularly true of small and medium sized ports, which are not addressed as such. This situation results in the 'European ports' policy' having the following general tendencies:

-First this policy favours large hub ports, and does not sufficiently emphasise the need for regional or community optimisation and the role of Small to Medium Ports (SMPs).

-Second, healthy regional competition is not promoted, whereas large, centralised decisions are applied to all types of ports without distinction.

-Third, this policy does not recognise the essential position of ports as the only fixed references in the transport chain, compared to other operators that are highly mobile and relatively unstable.


Recommendations in relation to implementation of health and safety law.

It is recommended that passport training, registration and identification be introduced for all dock workers both casual and permanent. Passport training has been eminently successful in several industries that have similar characteristics to stevedoring / dock working. The essential elements of passport training are:

- It is focused on safety and security in industries where these are major issues.

- It is aimed at industries where casual employment is endemic, such as the construction industry and the offshore oil and gas industry. Passport training has helped transform those industries from an old regime were irresponsibility, restrictive work practices and accidents were rife, to the current positions where workers identify with their industry, where people are responsible for their actions and where casualties a


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


Contribute! Submit your project

Do you wish to submit a project or a programme? Head over to the Contribute page, login and follow the process!