On 3 March 2017, Regulation (EU) 2017/352, of 15 February 2017, establishing a framework for the provision of port services and common rules on the financial transparency of ports, has been published on the Official Journal of the European Union.

Under article 1, paragraph 2, of Regulation 2017/352, the Regulation applies to the provision of the following categories of port services, either inside the port area or on the waterway access to the port: bunkering, cargo-handling, mooring, passenger services, and collection of ship-generated waste and cargo residues, pilotage and towage.

The regulation sets various minimum requirements for the provision of port service. These standards relate to, among others, the professional qualifications of the provider of port services, compliance with requirements on maritime safety or the safety and security of the port or access to it, its installations, equipment and workers and other persons or compliance with local, national, Union and international environmental requirements. The Regulation seeks also to ensure more transparency in financial relations between maritime ports in receipt of public funds and providers of port services, on the one hand, and public authorities, on the other hand.

Regulation (EU) 2017/352 is binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all members States. It shall apply from 24 March 2019.

Patrick Verhaegen, Secretary General of the ECSA, the European Community Shipowners’ Associations, claimed that the proposed text of the Regulation, now approved, “does not address some of the market access problems in ports shipowners face. However, now that after 15 years of discussions we finally have a first EU law on ports, we should build on this and see it as a first step towards a genuine motorways of the sea in which ports are key points”. Moreover, Verhaegen stressed that the European Commission should take further actions to fully deliver the potential of the short sea shipping sector, whose operators make frequent port calls and for whom by consequence well performing port services are proportionally extremely important.