S&Ds secure social rights and transparency in modernising EU port services
Today the European Parliament backed a reform of EU port services as proposed by the Socialists and Democrats, led by MEP Knut Fleckenstein. This was the EU's third attempt to reform and modernise the port services offered by the main 329 seaports in the EU. The first two attempts in 2001 and 2004 focused on liberalising the sector to make it more competitive, while the plan approved today focuses on transparency and on securing workers' rights and safety, social dialogue and environmental compliance.
The author of the parliamentary report, S&D MEP Knut Fleckenstein, said:
"We have effectively killed the forced market opening of port services today. Instead we are concentrating now on the better organisation of ports and the provision of good jobs. For the first time in the history of the ports package, the ports, the terminal operators and especially the unions support our position.
"Social working conditions are a major part of strengthening the competitiveness of the ports. In the 21st century, day labour should really not be acceptable anymore. We won't be able to solve the problems within the framework of this regulation, but we do demand action from those responsible to develop and guarantee good and secure jobs.
"Whether the result will be satisfactory after negotiations with the Council depends largely on the Council's willingness to accept that competitiveness goes hand in hand with social working conditions and on whether the Commission's draft for state aid rules concerning ports is reasonable."
Ismail Ertug MEP, S&D spokesperson on transport, said:
"The negotiations have been tough and controversial, but in the end the S&Ds have succeeded in getting essential priorities included in the compromise agreement: social and labour rights to be fully respected by the providers; financial transparency; no forced liberalisation for ports; and cutting red tape with regard to user consultation and the regulatory authorities. All in all, the compromise text is now an agreement backed by all political groups but clearly the handwriting belongs to the S&D Group."