Business & Industry

Jan 1, 2018

SPEED UP GLOBALIZATION

The oceans are the main support of the intercontinental transport of freight networks – in particular between Asia and North America, and Asia and Western Europe – contributing decisively to the strengthening of globalization.

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By ALFREDO MIRANDA

Faced with this reality, the European Union is committed to creating the so-called "motorways of the sea" that will provide greater flexibility in commercial trade.

The European project of the "motorways of the sea" includes four major corridors: through the Baltic Sea (which ensures the connection of the Member States of the Baltic Sea to Central and Western Europe); Western Europe (which ensures the call from Portugal and Spain via the Atlantic Arc to the North Sea and sea of Ireland); South-East Europe (connecting the Adriatic Sea to the Ionian Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean, including Cyprus); Western Mediterranean (linking Spain, France and Italy, including Malta).

The bet on "motorways of the sea" should contribute to encouraging an increase in the carriage of goods by sea rather than the land option. This is about developing quality and regular maritime links between different ports in the Union into a "seamless multimodal logic" to, according to the European Commission, "bypass congestion in road traffic, but also to better integrate the peripheral regions and the islands of the Union". On the other hand, the maritime highways allow the reduction of the downtime of vessels in ports and transport costs, because they facilitate the administrative procedures necessary for the movement of cargo into the sea.

The program "Motorways of the sea" was established by the European Commission, in 2001, on its 'White Book' on transport policy entitled "European Transport Policy for 2010: Time to Decide".

This document expressed the willingness of the Commission to revitalize short sea shipping and to create a European network of connections for this type of transport. In 2004, the concept of "motorways of the sea" was developed in more detail and the institution was presented as a priority project within the framework of the RTE-T program (2007-2013).

The motive behind the assignment of a priority to the project was the potential of short sea shipping in reducing road congestion and improving the accessibility of peripheral and island regions. It was hoped that this development would benefit the cohesion and a dynamic internal market.

Replacements and extensions of the highways, the oceanic highways have as main objective to avoid saturated corridors and provide access to countries separated by sea from the rest of the European Union. This functional definition became valid for both passenger transport and freight transport through the use of specialized vessels or containerized traffic.

Trans-European Network

The latest decisions of the European Commission, in addition to extending to 2020 the horizon time of development projects under the trans-European network, pointing to the tight integration of seaports, inland ports and intermodal terminals, and also for the total interoperability of different transport modes in a true intermodal network.

This way, the rebalancing modes of transport goes through measures that, in addition to the right place for each mode, ensure inter-modality. The big missing link in the chain is the absence of a close link between the sea, inland waterways and rail.

Experience shows that short sea shipping requires effective integrated business benefits. It is important to consider the possibility of bringing all supply chain operators (shippers, ship-owners and other players in the maritime industry, as well as the road, rail and inland waterway carriers) in a single window, which will make the intermodal expedition and maritime transport and inland waterways as reliable, flexible and easy to use as road transport. Only in this way, the sea highways can succeed.

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