Bid to boost sea freight

BRUSSELS – The European Commission has announced sweeping changes in sea cargo transport in an attempt to introduce the free movement of goods to the sector that already exists in land transport. In the European Union’s large domestic market, people and goods can move (more or less) freely, however there remains one last bastion of «old» Europe, namely ports. Cargoes transported by sea between European ports are still subject to all the customs, police, health and veterinary checks that apply to goods transported to non-EU states. The basic justification for this is that there is no way to be certain that a ship that embarks on its voyage from Piraeus, for example, to France’s Marseille does not stop at Egypt – a non-EU port. Yesterday, the European Commission presented a plan for the cessation of these controls as Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot pointed out that progress in technology allows for closer monitoring of ships and their journeys. The Commission will submit related proposals for approval during 2008. There are hopes that a quick approval by governments will pave the way for the maximization of sea transport within the EU to the benefit of the economy and the environment, which will be less burdened by the trucks that currently cross Europe daily.