NEWS | Wednesday, 28 November 2007
The European Union (EU) policy on Short Sea Shipping involves the maritime transport of freight within Europe and with Europe’s close neighbours, and it is one of the most successful transport modes in the EU.
Already today Short Sea Shipping is highly successful and it is the only mode that has proved able to keep up with the growth in the road freight transport. It plays a key role in ensuring sustainable mobility in Europe and contributes in alleviating road congestion and environmental concerns. It also forms part of the logistics chain in the cargo transport system.
Malta recognises the importance of short sea shipping in minimising congestion on European roads and the accrued benefits to the local transport operators and users. In fact, for Malta, short sea shipping has two main benefits.
The first is related to Malta’s cohesion with Europe. The EU has been its main trading partner for a long number of years. The greater majority of its trade is with other EU member states. Therefore, for Malta the development of short sea shipping and motorways of the sea can contribute towards regular and frequent direct links to different ports in Europe.
The other advantage is that Malta is a major transhipment hub. Therefore, using the hub and spoke concept, it could help to reduce congestion on European roads by organising logistics-to-transfer long haul cargo, carried on mother vessels, to feeder vessels which could reach smaller ports which are closer to the markets and industrial production centres, and thus minimize the road haulage required.
This element could be extended further to take into consideration the very important link using the sea-air connection, which will assist to move cargo even closer to the final destination.
One of the initiatives taken by the European Commission to enhance the image and role of short sea shipping was to encourage member states to establish a Shortsea Promotion Centre.
As soon as Malta became an EU Member State, efforts were taken to establish such a Centre. The European Commission has formally recognised the establishment of the Malta Shortsea Promotion Centre (MSPC) on the 30 June 2005.
Initially this centre was established as an independent unit within the Ports Directorate of the Malta Maritime Authority. This was necessary in view of the fact that there was a lack of stakeholders that were ready to share in its establishment and provide the necessary financing.
However, following the work of the MSPC, particularly in promoting awareness among stakeholders on the EU’s objectives in the maritime sector, during last year it had succeeded in attracting new membership.
The Malta Maritime Authority and Malta Motorways of the Sea Co Ltd are founder members, and the members are Malta Enterprise, Tug Malta Co. Ltd. and Combined Maritime Services Ltd.
Soon after its establishment, the MSPC became a full member of the European Shortsea Network (ESN). The ESN is first and foremost a forum of exchange of practical information and experience in enhancing the image of short sea shipping in the broadest sense of the work on a European level, vis-à-vis the main transport stakeholders including shippers, freight forwarders, ship operators and ports. It also seeks to encourage, by practical means, a move towards short sea shipping.
One of the main works carried out by the MSPC to-date is the establishment of a web-site to serve as the main contact point between the MSPC, its members, the industry and the general public in the dissemination of information on developments on short sea shipping. The address of this website is www.shortsea.org.mt
Malta intends to ensure that through the strengthening of the MSPC, it extends its cooperation towards the realisation of short sea shipping in Europe and particularly in the Mediterranean, also within the Euro-Med dialogue process.
Therefore, considering that the main beneficiaries of the MSPC should be the transport users and service providers, it is essential that the Centre membership includes a wide base of industry participants, including ship agents, terminal operators, freight forwarders, trailer operators and port services providers and their representative associations.
For this reason any one interested in becoming a member to the MSPC or wishing to discuss further the objectives of the MSPC may contact the Executive Secretary on the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Membership to the MSPC offers various economic advantages to the stakeholders. It will save its members time and money in researching, collating and presenting information, which otherwise would have to employ resources to do the same work.
The MSPC participates in both local and European fora and the experience and information received shall be passed on to its members on a regular basis. It also benefits from its membership to the European Short Sea Network which offers an unparalleled forum for networking on new developments within the maritime sector.
The MSPC will also serve as a catalyst between the needs of local entities involved in logistics and the various programmes offered by the EU, which makes it possible to benefit from funds, programmes and opportunities.
28 November 2007
ISSUE NO. 513