Europe’s ports are a pivotal part of its economy. They’re vital gateways that connect the continent’s transport corridors to the rest of the world, with about 74 % of the goods that enter or leave Europe doing so by sea. Their role in supporting trade within Europe and connecting islands and remote regions is just as important: 40 % of the EU’s internal trade is carried out through ports.
The key role that ports play in Europe’s transport network make their integration into the global logistics chain a priority. In support of this goal, the EU-funded DocksTheFuture has undertaken the task to define what Europe’s ports should be like by 2030 and to map the challenges they face.
Extensive desk research generates key data for 2030 vision
During the first 6 months of DocksTheFuture’s 30-month duration, the project partners completed their first round of desk research. Out of 350 proposed projects, studies and plans, they selected 50 with the potential to make the ‘Port of the future’ vision a reality by 2030. The final 50 were chosen following research conducted in earlier EU-funded projects and other projects, studies and papers, as well as a number of consultations and reviews.
The topics are wide-ranging and cover various challenges facing today’s seaports. They include: infrastructure, port accessibility, supply chain integration, environmental impact, sustainability, safety and security, digitalisation, port-city relations, governance, the human element, R&D implementation, and relations with Mediterranean and other neighbouring countries.
“The important take away of this research is that each topic is related to so many different aspects and other topics,” says process-IT consultant and transport expert Gilbert Bentein, from project partner PortExpertise, in a news item
posted on the website of the American Journal of Transportation. “When we say that it is a good idea to build more ships powered by LNG, at least for the immediate future, we have to think about LNG bunkering infrastructure, train people on the use of LNG, safety issues, legal instruments, funding etc. This multi-disciplinary approach makes it a really interesting project.”
Peter Bresseleers, the founder of PortExpertise, adds
: “We will see more clearly in the next phase, when various stakeholders will have challenged and completed our findings during intensive workshops after the summer break.”
The results of the desktop research will be kept in a DocksTheFuture database that will serve as a knowledge base for future investigations. It will be possible to use the stored information to coordinate the clustering, monitoring and evaluation of actions. Stakeholders will also be able to utilise the database to enhance international interaction and communication among all parties involved in port activities across the entire logistics chain.
The efforts of DocksTheFuture (Developing the methodology for a coordinated approach to the clustering, monitoring and evaluation of results of actions under the Ports of the Future topic) will play an important role towards optimising the operations of European ports in the near future.
For more information, please see: DocksTheFuture project website