The European Sea Ports Organization (ESPO) has announced that it will intensify its efforts as the official voice of European cruise and ferry ports toward European institutions.

ESPO said today that a cruise and passenger port network will be set up that will bring together Cruise Baltic, Cruise Europe, Cruise Norway and MedCruise and representatives of cruise and ferry port authorities. This network will meet regularly to discuss  relevant developments at the EU level and define where it should concentrate its efforts.

The organization said it will also engage to find synergies for the cruise and ferry sectors.

In addition, the ESPO plans to develop a code of good practices for EU cruise and ferry ports together with the port organizations.

In a prepared statement, Stavros Hatzakos, MedCruise President, commented: “This initiative is a clear mark of cruise ports commitment and investment in effective alliances. It is also a major step for improving the representation of cruise ports. Sharing knowledge and expertise port associations will advance cruise ports interests and best practices the finest way possible. They will also provide meaningful input in discussions with policy makers and stakeholders.”

At Cruise Norway, Ingvar M. Mathisen, chairman, said: “All organizations should focus on their 'core business' and rather seek strategic alliances/partnerships with other organizations with complementary focus and expertise. By entering into this strategic cooperation agreement, ESPO shall be focusing on policy matters concerning the cruise- and ferry business from the ports perspective on a European level which will enable Cruise Norway to focus on being the marketing company we are supposed to be for the benefit of our shareholders. This agreement will minimize duplication of work, save resources in form of both time and money and should provide better results.”

 “Cruise and ferry traffic is an increasingly important market segment for European ports and faces port authorities with specific challenges. Cruise and ferry activities in ports can however not be isolated from the freight business. It is therefore important that ESPO looks at both and make it possible to have an integrated approach when defining common positions of the port authorities on relevant policy issues,” said Isabelle Ryckbost, Secretary General of ESPO.

ESPO represents port authorities, port associations and port administrations of seaports of the Member States of the European Union and Norway. It also has observer members in several neighboring countries to the EU.

Ninety percent of Europe’s cargo trade in goods passes through the more than 1,200 seaports existing in the 23 maritime Member States of the EU and nearly 400 million passengers pass through Europe’s ports every year using ferry and cruise services.

ESPO stated that it ensures that seaports have a clear voice in the European Union. The organization promotes the common interests of its members throughout Europe and is also engaged in dialogue with European stakeholders in the Port and Maritime sector.