During the European Environment Council, ministers from Italy, Greece, and Portugal expressed their concern on the impact of the EU emissions trading system (ETS) on maritime freight transport.
he governments of Italy, Greece and Portugal pointed out that in the absence of a globally applicable mechanism similar to ETS, the current EU provisions on the application of the ETS system in the maritime sector, risk leading to very serious consequences in terms of carbon leakage and the loss of competitiveness by EU ports of call in freight transport with container transhipment, giving rise to a consequent strategic risk for the entire European logistics system.
According to their statement, the identified mitigating mechanisms (namely the exclusion of non-EU ports located less than 300 nautical miles from EU ports of call from the definition of ports of call) are by no means sufficient to compensate for the serious loss of competitiveness mentioned above and, additionally, to tackle the unintended and undesirable effect of an overall increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from maritime traffic.
The three countries also expressed concern that the application of the current ETS maritime rules, without correction, will lead to:
- A clear competitive disadvantage for European ports, particularly those in Southern Europe, which compete with many North African ports. The disincentive for freight traffic to call at EU ports is even greater in the case of arrivals and destinations that lie entirely outside the European Union, in which case the failure to call at EU ports allows the ETS mechanism to be bypassed altogether. The strategic value of European ports of call for international and intercontinental freight routes is thus at risk, with serious consequences for the entire European logistics sector and for employment in that sector;
- A definite risk that the traffic rerouting policies that commercial operators adopt will paradoxically have the undesirable effect of increasing GHG emissions.
The governments of Italy, Greece and Portugal therefore called upon the European Commission to clarify the possible list of measures it intends to adopt in order to mitigate the risks identified above and the procedure for deploying such measures, should those risks materialise.
To remind, concern over carbon and business leakage due to the limited scope of the current legislation has also been expressed multiple times by the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) as well as the Federation of European Private Port Operators (FEPORT).