Port Package

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Port Package is the (nick) name of a partially unimplemented legislative package consisting of an EU directive and a notification that affects European ports . It was the directive on market access to port services. The draft directive should lead to more competition in and between European seaports. Among other things, the draft should regulate: transparency regulations for state aid to seaports and / or seaport operations, tendering (deadline up to 46 years) for state-owned land in the ports, as well as transitional and compensation regulations. In addition, so-called self-handling (= loading and unloading of a ship by its own crew with on-board loading gear) should be permitted. In the future, ship crews would have been able to unload the cargo themselves. The obligation to tender would have enabled shipowners to operate their own handling facilities following an award procedure .

The proposed directive met with fierce opposition from dock workers and trade unions across Europe. She was supported u. a. from BDI .

Exemplary description of the situation in the port of Hamburg

Port Package2.gif

The entire quay facilities of the Port of Hamburg are the inalienable property of the City of Hamburg ; these are currently rented to the container terminal operators on a rolling basis. The lease contracts are renewed almost automatically when they expire. New port service providers thus have no chance of accessing the market. This and other points should be changed as part of the Port Package legislative process :

  • The lease contracts should be limited to a maximum of 46 (36 + 10) years so that the leased land should come back onto the "market" after the period has expired. This means that third parties will have the chance to settle in Hamburg and participate in container handling for the next 46 years.
  • Shipping companies should handle their ships themselves; this means that the crew of a ship unloads the containers themselves (the so-called self-handling had already been canceled in the committee vote by all groups in the European Parliament ).

The port workers, their unions and the port companies saw the following dangers in this:

  • After 46 years, the companies have to tear down or sell their entire structure. The prerequisite is, of course, that the lease agreement goes to another container terminal operator.
  • Considerable unemployment (e.g. terminal workers who otherwise handled the ships are no longer needed).

Notes on this:

  • Modern container ships cannot be unloaded with their own loading gear or the lay time is then disproportionately extended.
  • A transition period of 46 years would have applied to existing leases.
  • Ports in private ownership and special ports (e.g. oil plants or the Hamburg airport) would be excluded from the scope of application.
  • The planned cancellation of the so-called self-handling was u. a. known to the trade unions since December 2004.

Successes of the protests

Port Package I was successfully demonstrated against in 2003, whereupon the project was discarded.

Port Package

There were also massive protests against Port Package II. The EU directive on market access to port services was rejected in the EU Parliament by 532 votes to 120 with 25 abstentions. Politicians of the SPD and the Greens as well as the FDP welcomed this decision in Germany, whereby the CDU was split into two camps on this issue.


  1. "Port Directive" failed , accessed on May 28, 2020.