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Thursday, 25 November 2021 - Strasbourg Revised edition

13. International ports’ congestions and increased transport costs affecting the EU (debate)
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  Der Präsident. – Als nächster Punkt der Tagesordnung folgt die Aussprache über die Erklärung der Kommission zur Überlastung internationaler Häfen und gestiegenen Transportkosten zum Nachteil der EU (2021/2980(RSP)).

Ich weise die Mitglieder darauf hin, dass es bei allen Aussprachen dieser Tagung keine spontanen Wortmeldungen gibt und keine blauen Karten akzeptiert werden.

Außerdem sind wie bei früheren Tagungen Zuschaltungen aus den Verbindungsbüros des Parlaments in den Mitgliedstaaten vorgesehen.

Ich möchte Sie außerdem darauf hinweisen, dass Redebeiträge im Saal nach wie vor am zentralen Rednerpult gehalten werden. Ich möchte Sie deshalb bitten, die Rednerliste im Auge zu behalten und sich zum Rednerpult zu begeben, wenn Ihr Redebeitrag ansteht.

 
  
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  Helena Dalli, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, on behalf of Commissioner Vălean I would like to thank you for raising the issue of international ports, congestion and increased transport costs affecting the EU.

We are indeed dealing with extraordinary and unexpected challenges in freight logistics as a result of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. These are topics of utmost importance to our industries and economy, and ultimately to each of us as citizens and consumers. With the COVID-19 pandemic, we have undoubtedly been through the most severe crisis in decades and it is not over yet as we all know.

Transport and logistics have been one of the most affected sectors. The sector has experienced exceptional pressures since spring 2020. Yet transport and logistics operators continued to operate and deliver essential goods during the pandemic. This was possible due to the considerable personal efforts and sacrifices of transport workers, including in the maritime transport sector.

There are multiple causes for the current disruption in the market. Container shipping demand picked up strongly from July 2020 as factories reopened and consumers shifted some of their household budgets from services to goods. Companies restocking depleted inventories further contributed to the sudden swing in demand. Some companies sought to increase their inventory in anticipation of future disruption.

Moreover, as economies did not reopen at the same time across the world, this created more container shipping demand in other places, causing substantial imbalances. This was further exacerbated by port congestion due to lower port productivity as a result of strict Covid protocols – covered port closures or due to weather impact.

In addition, the dramatic rise in consumer demand for goods has translated into a surge in global container shipping demand. Since July 2020 this has caused record high container shipping spot rates, on average around four to five times the normal levels on the main east-west trade. Spot freight rates have continued rising in the third quarter of 2021, reaching new historical highs. And whilst recent average arrival delays have stabilised, schedule reliability remains poor.

Importantly, a substantial amount of container ship capacity is currently tied up at anchor waiting to berth. Because port congestion increases journey times, this requires more container ship capacity. Shipping companies are increasingly deploying more capacity into key trades, in particular on the Asia to North America West Coast route.

However, the deployment of more capacity outside schedule creates a surge of cargo at the destination, with the potential of making the congestion even worse. The problem has resulted in bottlenecks and terminals and on land which affect vessels utilisation rate and effectively removes capacity from the market, reducing the ability to cater for demand.

We have recently seen a new escalation of port congestion in some critical ports outside the EU, such as Los Angeles, Long Beach, where more than 80 container vessels are waiting outside the harbours. The Commission is in regular contact with relevant stakeholders to identify any scope for action that can help towards a return to normal operations.

We are monitoring carefully market developments, facilitating dialogue between all actors of the supply chain and liaising with competition and transport authorities, both within and outside the EU. Currently it does not seem that regulation and market intervention could profitably substitute market mechanisms in sorting out congestion problems in logistic chains and imbalances between demand and supply.

The Commission is also in contact with regulators and competition authorities in China and the USA. Following our exchanges, we agreed that no anti-competitive behaviour from shipping alliances aimed at increasing freight rates has been identified so far. Nevertheless, we should focus on understanding the causes of the current difficulties and on learning the lessons of this pandemic.

We need to enhance the resilience of our supply chains and be better prepared to respond to potential future crises. In markets that are heavily intertwined, common shared actions would appear to be the most appropriate response, fighting congestion on the seaside and land side. For instance, building buffer and spare capacity, improving port call efficiency and digitalisation would in particular appear relevant.

Digitalisation and new business models in support of collaborative logistics could be important enablers in this process. One of the key elements for a resilient transport system is the availability and smart use of information. This could lead to real time decisions in the shipping and container market.

Data sharing will enhance process planning, enable failure detection and mitigation and facilitate interaction among all actors in the supply chain. Being able to track the availability and positioning of empty containers could lead to quicker reactions by all market operators in case of congestion or delay, such as container rerouting or changes in ships loading plans.

I strongly believe that we need a systemic approach accounting for the user’s perspective to achieve an integrated, multimodal smart and green transport system. Transport modes, infrastructure and assets need to be managed in a more efficient and integrated way to better exploit idle capacities. I thank you and look forward to your comments.

 
  
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  Pablo Arias Echeverría, en nombre del Grupo PPE. – Señor presidente, señora comisaria, muchas gracias por estar aquí.

Celebro que, por fin, tratemos este importante debate que hemos propuesto desde mi grupo parlamentario —desde el PPE—, porque es, sin duda, uno de los temas prioritarios en Europa y no solo afecta al sector del transporte, sino a todos los eslabones de la cadena logística y, en última instancia, por supuesto, a todos los europeos.

La pandemia ha provocado que los costes del transporte aumenten en más de un 1 000 %, causando retrasos y bloqueos en el reparto de mercancías a nivel mundial. Esto está generando gran inseguridad jurídica a todos los actores implicados. A ello se suman el aumento de los costes de la energía y la escasez de materias primas, que en la Unión Europea tenemos que importar y que mayoritariamente entran por nuestros puertos.

Los efectos indirectos, como la subida de los precios y la inflación, amenazan la recuperación económica, el bolsillo de nuestros ciudadanos y la competitividad de nuestras empresas. Como he dicho, la crisis afecta a todos los sectores, por supuesto al alimentario, pero también al automovilístico, al de la construcción o al textil, por solo citar algunos de ellos. La amenaza de desabastecimiento es real y se prevé que continúe al menos hasta el verano de 2022.

A todo esto y a la vez, en la Unión Europea trabajamos en un nuevo marco del sistema de emisiones de CO2 —los llamados RCDE—, incluyendo el transporte marítimo, cuya consecuencia va a ser el encarecimiento, sin duda, aún más si cabe, del ya elevadísimo coste del flete marítimo actual. Se prevé una deslocalización de los tráficos actuales a terceros países no afectados por el sistema RCDE, aunque esto ya nos dará para debates más adelante.

Sabemos que las causas y soluciones de la crisis son globales. Pero, dicho esto, no podemos quedarnos de brazos cruzados esperando a ver cómo evolucionan las cosas. Hay que pasar a la acción para contener el impacto y garantizar que nuestros puertos sigan siendo competitivos a nivel mundial.

¿Qué pretende hacer la Comisión a nivel europeo para minimizar los efectos de esta crisis en el mercado único, en nuestros ciudadanos y en nuestra industria y, especialmente, en nuestras pymes?

 
  
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  Carmen Avram, în numele grupului S&D. – Domnule președinte, domnule comisar, criza din porturile lumii, care ar fi putut fi anticipată într-o oarecare măsură, a declanșat un tsunami economic istoric, iar acest val devastator a lovit teritoriul Uniunii Europene deja zguduit de efectele pandemiei.

Consecința o vedem cu toții: rafturile se umplu mai greu, fabricile au întârzieri masive la livrări din cauza microcipurilor care ajung foarte greu din China, prețurile au explodat peste tot, sărbătorile de iarnă ar putea aduce haos în magazine. Și lucrurile nu se vor liniști curând, avertizează specialiștii. Dar cel mai grav este că în plină criză sanitară, printre produsele care fie nu se găsesc, fie sunt cu mult mai scumpe, se numără medicamentele unele vitale în tratamentul anti-COVID.

În țara mea, acest lucru se simte dramatic în acest val 4 care ne-a lovit cumplit. În spitale, stocurile de anticorpi monoclonali au lipsit cu desăvârșire, iar alte tratamente ajung cu mare întârziere. În fața acestui scenariu, pe care nu trebuie să îl lăsăm să devină apocaliptic, Uniunea Europeană trebuie să acționeze cu fermitate și promptitudine.

Strategia farmaceutică pentru Europa, votată ieri în plenul Parlamentului European, este un prim pas pentru a evita o viitoare criză a medicamentelor, însă nu e suficient. Trebuie luate urgent măsuri noi, pentru că dacă această criză din porturi nu a fost anticipată, măcar acum știm exact la ce ne putem aștepta în lunile sau chiar anii care vin.

Am înțeles cu toții care ne sunt vulnerabilitățile. E momentul, deci, să acționăm. Europa are nevoie imediat de o regândire a producției, astfel încât să putem fabrica acasă produse vitale: medicamente, echipamente sanitare, componente electronice, hrană suficientă. Trebuie să ne dotăm porturile cu infrastructură de ultimă generație și cu servicii adaptate vremurilor pentru eficientizarea timpilor de așteptare, să investim în resursa umană care se diminuează pe întreg teritoriul Uniunii Europene. Aceste măsuri nu numai că ne vor asigura supraviețuirea în momente de criză, dar vor asigura și noi locuri de muncă și venituri suplimentare.

Dar înainte de toate, trebuie să ne dotăm rapid cu un cadru legislativ care să ușureze noile investiții, pentru că industriile ar fi gata să pornească motoarele, dar în epoca Green Deal, care le cere să respecte reguli stricte, au nevoie de sprijin și de predictibilitate. Trebuie să investim neîntârziat în cercetare pentru a oferi alternativa verde la tot ceea ce vrem să lăsăm în urmă și pentru a pregăti un viitor sigur pentru generațiile care vin.

 
  
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  José Ramón Bauzá Díaz, en nombre del Grupo Renew. – Señor presidente, señora comisaria, muchas gracias por su comparecencia, aunque lamento que quien no esté aquí para dar explicaciones sea la comisaria responsable de la materia, ante una crisis del transporte de mercancías sin precedentes y de la que ella es competente directamente.

Señorías, en el mundo entero y en Europa se encuentran —nos encontramos— inmersos en una crisis de suministros sin precedentes que afecta a toda la cadena logística y, con ello, a millones de personas, a millones de empresas, a millones de consumidores europeos.

Esta crisis es el conjunto de una serie de factores, desde la caída de la producción en sectores clave hasta las dificultades que atraviesa el transporte marítimo o también el de carretera. Estos cuellos de botella unidos a la fuerte subida de los precios de la energía, sobre todo del gas, aunque también del petróleo, están afectando directamente a las perspectivas de crecimiento de nuestra economía.

Por eso mismo, desde mi Grupo, desde Renew Europe, y como portavoz de esta Comisión de Transportes y Turismo en materia del grupo liberal, es por lo que he solicitado la comparecencia de la Comisión Europea en esta Cámara para que dé explicaciones sobre un problema que requiere de una cosa: de actuar.

Es cierto que estamos ante una cuestión en la que influyen numerosas fuerzas de mercado, como es el caso de la sobredemanda o de una oferta limitada. Pero, aun así, los problemas no se resuelven por arte de magia. Nosotros, los que estamos hoy aquí presentes, somos los que tenemos la capacidad de apoyar a nuestras empresas, sobre todo cuando se enfrentan a problemas con respecto a los que no pueden actuar y que no pueden resolver por sí mismas.

No podemos quedarnos aquí cruzados de brazos mientras observamos cómo no hay contenedores, cómo los precios de los fletes aumentan exponencialmente o cómo las empresas tienen problemas para conseguir sus productos y las materias primas más esenciales.

Para eso no estamos aquí, señorías. Estamos para dar soluciones, soluciones a una crisis global, soluciones a una situación que amenaza con el desabastecimiento de miles de empresas. Y sobre todo cuando estamos a punto de empezar el Black Friday, el Cyber Monday o bien la campaña de Navidad. Por eso necesitamos impulsar un marco de respuesta internacional a la crisis de suministros que evite estos cuellos de botella en el futuro y que también nos haga menos dependientes de Asia y, en concreto, de China.

En segundo lugar, debemos impulsar la inversión europea en infraestructura de transporte que facilite el movimiento y que los productos lleguen de forma más rápida y más económica.

Finalmente debemos reforzar nuestro transporte rodado, el ferrocarril, pero también el transporte de carretera, injustamente criminalizado por algunos y que padece una acuciante falta de mano de obra. Las dificultades económicas que están atravesando los camioneros españoles, los búlgaros, los rumanos o de cualquier país de la Unión Europea, agravadas por el incremento del precio de los combustibles, merecen no solo nuestro reconocimiento, sino que merecen una atención especial por parte de las instituciones europeas.

Ya acabo. Señor presidente, querida comisaria, aprendamos de los errores del pasado y no esperemos a que las crisis se solucionen por sí mismas. De lo contrario, estamos seguros de que la crisis desaparecerá, pero con ella también desaparecerán nuestras empresas. Y les puedo asegurar que eso no podemos permitírnoslo.

 
  
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  Maximilian Krah, im Namen der ID-Fraktion. – Herr Präsident, Frau Kommissarin! Der Stau, den wir in den Häfen haben, ist eine Folge des Corona-Lockdowns. Und es ist natürlich, dass genau deshalb nun Nachholbedarf besteht und eine erhöhte Nachfrage den Preis treibt. Es ist aber auch abzusehen, dass dieser Preis sinken wird, weil es sich um eine einmalige Nachholaktion für den Lockdown handelt.

So sehr ich es begrüße, dass die Kommission diese Preissteigerungen im Blick hat, so sehr fürchte ich, dass sie dies zum Maßstab und zum Anlass nimmt, jetzt grundlegende politische Wandlungen vorzunehmen. Manchmal muss man auch den Mut haben, solche einmaligen Effekte auszuhalten, anstatt durch unüberlegte Handlungen oder langfristige Strategien aus einem einmaligen Affekt eine dauerhafte Krise zu machen.

Dieses Haus und auch die Kommission neigen dazu, dass sie das Heilmittel gegen jedes Problem, das auftritt, darin sehen, dass sie eine neue Politik machen. Wenn ich die Reden meiner Vorredner angehört habe, sind das ja immer sehr grundlegende Fragen. Man möchte quasi die ganze Gesellschaft umbauen, nur um den Stau in den Häfen zu beseitigen. Lassen Sie uns doch überlegen, ob dieser Stau nicht eine sehr konkrete Folge des Lockdown ist, und ob in dem Maße, wie es uns gelingt, von der Corona-Pandemie wegzukommen und wieder reale Mechanismen zu haben, den Notstand zu beenden, dann auch dieser Stau automatisch zurückgehen wird!

Und wenn es eine strategische Idee gibt für die Zukunft, dann ist es die, dass wir nicht dauerhaft unseren Handel von maritimen Handelswegen abhängig machen sollten, sondern dass wir auch nach kontinentalen Handelswegen schauen sollten. Wir sollten also auch überlegen, ob wir nicht gerade Richtung Osten Landwege brauchen, damit wir eben nicht einseitig von maritimen Handelsstraßen abhängig sind.

Aber auch das ist keine Frage, die etwas mit der Reaktion auf die Corona-Pandemie zu tun hat. Es ist eine generelle Frage unserer Handelspolitik. Wir können sie jetzt diskutieren, aber sie wird an den derzeitig hohen Preisen nichts ändern.

Was wir mitnehmen können, ist, dass eine unüberlegte Corona-Politik die Inflation treibt, und zwar in jedem Bereich. Das kann uns kurzfristig helfen. Was uns auch helfen kann, ist, dass eine überbordende Bürokratie und überbordende politische Handlungen oft das Gegenteil dessen bewirken, was sie sollen. Das Gegenteil von gut ist gut gemeint.

Ich respektiere, dass man versucht, auf eine konkrete Krise gut gemeint zu reagieren. Ich wünschte, wir würden gut reagieren. Und das heißt: Lassen Sie uns diesen Stau, der entstanden ist, abarbeiten und lassen Sie uns dann sehen, wie es weitergeht, nach all dem, was uns die Ökonomen sagen, wenn sich die Preise normalisieren und stabilisieren, wenn wir aufhören, mit neuen politischen Handlungen den Wirtschaftskreislauf zu beeinträchtigen.

 
  
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  Joachim Stanisław Brudziński, w imieniu grupy ECR. – Panie Przewodniczący! Obecne wyzwania związane z przeciążeniem międzynarodowych portów morskich oraz wzrostem kosztów transportu mające wpływ na Unię Europejską wymagają działań o charakterze globalnym w związku z globalnym charakterem transportu morskiego. Przyjmowanie wiążących działań o charakterze regionalnym może mieć odwrotny skutek od zamierzonego i pogłębiać obecną niekorzystną sytuację.

Wśród proponowanych rozwiązań wymagających zaangażowania Unii Europejskiej na szczeblu międzynarodowym można wskazać: ustanowienie międzynarodowego systemu wymiany informacji na temat sytuacji na szlakach żeglugowych oraz zatłoczenia kluczowych portów morskich, jak i wytypowanie portów alternatywnych do obsługi ładunków, wypracowanie globalnych rozwiązań w zakresie operacji portowych, wyznaczenie pracowników transportowych, marynarzy, pracowników portowych, operatorów logistycznych jako kluczowych pracowników i tym samym umożliwienie im funkcjonowania w przypadku wprowadzanych restrykcji mających na celu przeciwdziałanie pandemii, w końcu uczynienie zawodów związanych z branżą morską bardziej atrakcyjnymi.

Obecnie doświadczenia powinny stanowić cenny wkład dla wypracowanego przez Komisję Europejską planu awaryjnego dla transportu towarowego w Unii Europejskiej.

 
  
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  Cláudia Monteiro de Aguiar (PPE). – Senhor Presidente, Senhora Comissária, vivemos, de facto, um estrangulamento logístico, uma crise de abastecimento global que afeta a competitividade da economia europeia, que afeta os cidadãos. O aumento generalizado dos preços, a falta de stock ou atrasos nas entregas e reposições, é uma realidade que precisa da nossa resposta.

A União, junto dos parceiros internacionais, tem de encontrar resposta às causas deste estrangulamento, uma resposta conjunta, desenvolvida com o setor marítimo, com os transitários, armadores, portos e a parte multimodal para a distribuição.

Uma inação da União é desapontar os consumidores europeus e é enfraquecer a competitividade europeia. A escassez dos contentores e dos navios de grande porte, o congestionamento dos portos, a falta de armazenamento, os atrasos na distribuição para o interior dos países, o aumento dos preços da energia, o aumento das taxas, a concentração e as alianças nas mãos de poucos são elementos a que a União tem de responder.

Acresce que muitos armadores, para baixarem os custos, preferem rotas mais rentáveis, congestionando portos de grande dimensão e preterindo portos mais periféricos, o que resulta na escassez de produtos também nestes mercados. Países como Portugal, as regiões ultraperiféricas europeias, sofrem este efeito de desvio de rotas, sem qualquer alternativa de abastecimento. Por isso, muitos consideram que o setor marítimo enfrenta uma tempestade perfeita perante uma crise global e o aumento generalizado dos preços em 2022.

Senhora Comissária, o que fez a Comissão para colmatar estes elementos? Os Estados Unidos apresentam um grande plano para as infraestruturas adjacentes? E o que podem esperar os portos e os operadores para o alívio dos estrangulamentos das cadeias de abastecimento? E termino: que plano tem para a União que assuma este esforço global para regular o funcionamento da rede mundial de logística e transporte? Porque é disto que falamos. Cooperação para a retoma económica.

 
  
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  Juozas Olekas (S&D). – Mr President, the COVID—19 pandemic drastically changed our daily routine. As work from home became a new normal and people could not spend their incomes on travel and services, a big part of their freed cash went to buy overseas goods. This brought an unprecedented challenge to the global supply chain. An increased demand for goods, together with the recovered economy, highlighted many bottlenecks in the global supply chain and increased shipping costs.

The UN Conference on Trade and Development report, published on 18 November, stresses that small open economies would suffer disproportionate consumer price increases because of their high trade charges. According to this report, in my country, Lithuania, prices there will rise by 3.9% and in Estonia by 3.7%. The impact will be even greater in the Small Island Developing States, which could see import prices increase by 24% and consumer prices by 7.5%.

The question is what the EU and the Member States can do to reverse this worrying trend? The additional resources brought to ease port congestion have given the first positive results. We no longer hear news about container ships waiting for weeks to unload their cargo. Modernising the quality of port infrastructure and improving shipping connectivity would also help to ease shipping congestion.

But, in the long run, this crisis shows that the EU should do more to shorten the supply chain. This is true for different economic areas, such as agriculture, pharmacy and manufacturing. We should encourage bringing the production capacity back to Europe and, in this way, help to shield our industries and consumers from future shipment, and market, volatilities.

 
  
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  Vlad Gheorghe (Renew). – Domnule președinte, alimentele și medicamentele ajung la noi după un foarte lung lanț de aprovizionare. Principalele căi de transport sunt rutier și maritim – ambele date peste cap și cu costuri record în pandemie. De noi depinde ca transportatorii să livreze bunurile rapid și în siguranță, la costuri decente pentru cetățenii europeni. Porturile noastre suferă acum din cauza porturilor extra-europene: sunt timpi de tranzit mai mari, tarife crescute, iar containerele lipsesc. În România, livrările din China costă de până la 8 ori mai mult decât în 2019.

Cetățenii și companiile europene nu trebuie să suporte aceste facturi. S-a ajuns aici pentru că nu am reglementat corect, nu am dat fondurile europene acelor investiții care să asigure management portuar eficient și infrastructură competitivă. Pandemia ne-a arătat clar ce trebuie să îmbunătățim. Trebuie să ieșim din birouri, să ieșim pe teren, unde sunt adevăratele probleme. E cazul să încetăm discuțiile nesfârșite și să acționăm. Cetățenii europeni chiar merită asta.

 
  
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  Ciarán Cuffe, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Mr President, there have been winners and losers in this awful pandemic. And I read this morning that container shipping companies made profits of almost USD 50 billion in the third quarter alone of this year, and that kind of money surpasses the profits of tech giants like Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google, despite the fact that most of the underlying costs for these companies haven’t changed. And these spiralling costs of shipping, up almost a thousand per cent for some routes from China to Europe, these are disrupting supply chains and they are increasing costs for consumers. And the impact of these increases, it tends to impact most on the less well-off and smaller countries. And, of course Covid and the Suez Canal blockage played a role, but we also know that there are competition concerns in the shipping centre. And when can we expect some action from the Commission on concentration in the market?

I do find it interesting that we constantly hear from the shipping industry and from some MEPs that tackling the climate crisis will negatively impact EU shipping’s competitiveness or be too expensive. And this argument is at the core of the opposition to even mild attempts to decarbonise the sector. Of course, such a short-sighted view conveniently ignores the fact that competitiveness is irrelevant if parts of the Earth are uninhabitable.

So my question to the shipping companies is, will you be investing the tens of billions of euro of profit into truly clean technologies to save us from the climate emergency? And another crucial and related issue is that some of our trade flows are inherently unsustainable, sending apples from New Zealand to Ireland is surely unsustainable and we need to tackle all of this.

So the true cost of some things in our economy is rarely reflected, and this is particularly true in the field of transport. If we’re serious about the price of carbon, we must take action. We must tackle the shipping sector and ensure that the decarbonise.

 
  
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  Clare Daly (The Left). – Mr President, I think it is interesting that we’re having this discussion on the eve of Black Friday, the day where undoubtedly we’ll see a splurge in online sales driven by the likes of Amazon that will have our congested ports creaking at the seams. And when we talk about the challenges of the carrying capacity of container ships and the container shortages and so on, let’s spare a thought for the port workers at the receiving end of this crisis, because soaring freight rates and costs are placing additional pressure also on the workforce.

In many ways, part of the crisis is actually a case of chickens coming home to roost. A consequence of the driving down of wages and conditions, attempts to break dockworkers’ unions across the EU, outsourcing work practices, refusing to hire trained dockworkers for lashing and so on. And this race to the bottom must end. We don’t want a return to the days of on the waterfront, so graphically illustrated by Marlon Brando’s film. Transport workers have paid a huge price during the Covid crisis, and they are now at the receiving end of this surge.

But I think we need to step back as well and look at whether container transport can keep apace in the changing world. We know the EU is launching its connectivity strategy, Global Gateway, in response to the Chinese Belt and Road. But before we do, we might want to make sure that no European countries are taking part in corrupt practices with local governments to get concessions on container terminals, like the French billionaire Vincent Bolloré and his links with the Togolese and Ghanaian presidents to get concessions in the ports of Lomé and Conakry.

So no shortcuts. Ports should be run fairly everywhere around the world with respect for workers’ rights everywhere.

 
  
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  Chris MacManus, on behalf of the The Left Group. – Mr President, I welcome the debate on congestion at international ports and increased transport costs affecting the EU. This debate has particular relevance in my own country of Ireland. As an island nation where, pre—Brexit, much of our exports had gone via Britain to the continent. It is important we continue to develop transport links between the island of Ireland and Europe.

Increasing port traffic to and from Ireland, whilst important, needs to be complemented with increased access to these ports from across our island. This means investment in key infrastructures such as rail. Such investments should aim to increase freight and passenger services all across our island.

Indeed, it is time for the Irish Government to act and re-open Ireland’s Western Rail Corridor. The reopening of the Western Rail Corridor would not only be an investment which tackles regional imbalance, but it would also be an investment in sustainable transport and assist our efforts to reduce carbon emissions. The rail line would provide a link from the west and northwest of Ireland to the deep-water ports of Foynes and Waterford, providing a significant opportunity for economic development and helping to reverse the decline of our region. It would not only benefit our all—Ireland economy and communities, but our environment as well.

 
  
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  Helena Dalli, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, thank you for this debate, and I will pass on your comments to Commissioner Vălean. The Commission, within the realm of its powers and competences, is willing to address your concerns about the functioning of the market, ensuring Europe’s competitiveness, and the proper functioning of the maritime supply chain.

Currently, it would seem that regulation and market intervention would not usefully substitute market mechanisms and sorting out congestion problems and logistic chains, and imbalances between demand and supply. However, in markets that are heavily intertwined, common shared actions, would appear as the most appropriate responses. Fighting congestion on both the sea side and land side would in particular appear relevant.

 
  
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  Der Präsident. – Die Aussprache ist geschlossen.

Die Sitzung wird für einige Minuten unterbrochen. Sie wird um 16.00 Uhr mit der Bekanntgabe der Ergebnisse der zweiten heutigen Abstimmungsrunde wieder aufgenommen.

(Die Sitzung wird um 15.48 Uhr unterbrochen)

 
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