22nd September 2014
The European Commission is once again considering proposals that could threaten the smooth running of British Ports, including those such as Avonmouth and Portbury near Bristol. The Commission’s aim is to introduce competition into the largely State owned and State Subsidised ports on the continent.
The problem is that these rules would be deeply damaging to the busy ports here in Britain which by contrast are largely privately owned, highly competitive and operate free of taxpayer support. If these proposal come into effect then they could cost jobs, harm investment and reduce the safety standards in Britain’s Ports.
Mr Ashley Fox, Conservative MEP for the South West of England & Gibraltar, recently met with representatives of The Bristol Port Company to hear of their concerns.
“The Bristol Port Company employs over 600 and over 10,000 South West jobs depend on Bristol Port and companies on its estate. We accept hundreds of vessels a year and ship millions of tonnes of goods all across the world,” argues Simon Bird, Chief Executive of The Bristol Port Company. “Rather than increase competition in an already competitive British Market they will hurt businesses and reduce standards. It was good to be able to meet with Ashley to discuss our concerns and ensure someone in Brussels is listening.”
“Sadly this is once again an example of the Commission trying to push for a one size fits all approach without fully realising the consequences,” commented Mr Fox after his visit.
“Fairer competition between ports, not greater regulation of their internal operations, is the best way to increase efficiency across Europe and strengthen the Single Market. I will be taking this matter up with the Commission. We cannot allow the efficiently run British Ports to be damaged as the EU tries to tackle some grossly inefficient practices elsewhere in Europe.”