Core ports’ role discussed in Almedalen

At the end of 2013, the EU decided to give priority to nine transport corridors in Europe, where it would concentrate its transport investments. Of some 1,200 large ports in Europe, one hundred or so have been designated as core ports. Five of these are located in Sweden – Malmö/Copenhagen, Trelleborg, Göteborg, Stockholm and Luleå. Sweden, on the other hand, has singled out 25 central ports in the country that it regards as a priority.

A debate has thereby been initiated in Sweden about which role the core ports should have when measures are prioritised in the national infrastructure plan. It was also the theme of a seminar during Almedalen week at which the consultancy firm, WSP, presented a report on the role of the Swedish core ports from a regional, national and European perspective.

The Member of Parliament Boriana Åberg (M) made the point that there has been a concern in Sweden over the requirements placed on the core ports linked to the EU investment in them, and that Sweden has not been sufficiently good at prioritising the core ports.

The Swedish core ports were represented on the panel by Port of Gothenburg’s CEO Magnus Kårestedt. He felt that we should widen our perspective and accept that we are a part of a European transport system, and it is therefore important that we follow the EU’s line in Sweden. We shouldn’t be afraid to make counter demands. Higher requirements make the ports better.

The EU parliamentarian Jens Nilsson (S) considered that through designating the core ports, the EU is making priorities for Sweden, and thus limiting Sweden’s self-determination in relation to the issue. However, if we want to get as much EU funding as possible, he thought that it would be a good idea to follow the EU’s direction. Above all, Sweden should focus on a common strategy with the other Nordic countries.

The President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Southern Sweden, Stephan Müchler, raised the issue of whether this shouldn’t perhaps be an exclusively national question. The regions should be able to decide more themselves. It has been successful in other infrastructure issues.

WSP’s report on the Swedish core ports is available at http://www.wspgroup.com

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