July 11 ------ The European Sea Ports Organization (ESPO) said it supports the initial aim of the EU taxonomy framework to encourage private investors to prioritize green and sustainable investments by providing them a clear manual with common definitions. The organization added it understands that in the light of the Green Deal and Green Recovery plans, the EU taxonomy for sustainable finance will also be used as a basis for the EU and Member States when setting public measures or instruments. However, European ports ask the EU Commission and relevant policy makers to respect the sustainability requirements and funding priorities put forward in sectoral legislation when using the EU taxonomy framework as a basis for public funding and financing instruments.
The Trans-European Networks in the fields of transport, energy and digital and the Connecting Europe Facility are the outcome of a complex legislative process. The EU taxonomy should not create another layer on top of the priorities set in such sectoral legislation and should not overrule the established funding requirements and eligibility criteria for EU funded projects, according to ESPO. “By introducing another layer of requirements and definitions, the taxonomy framework will add on complexity and confusion for ports and other project promoters, which are preparing and/or submitting investments projects,” the organization said. Where no sectoral requirements are in place, technical screening criteria can help to promote and facilitate sustainable investments. In that respect, definitions of sustainable economic activities and investments should remain technology-neutral and need to take into account the availability and market-readiness of sustainable solutions. They should include transitional and enabling activities, which provide a short- and medium-term solution on the path towards climate-neutrality, ESPO further said.
Moreover, when setting any technical requirements, ports should be considered not only as components of maritime transport but as clusters of transport, energy and industry. Specifically, they are in many ways a strategic partner in Europe’s ambitious decarbonization agenda. Investments in ports aiming at facilitating the decarbonization of the port, including its diversity of stakeholders and activities should thus be considered sustainable as such, European ports pointed out. Finally, given the political impact of EU taxonomy in its current status, ESPO strongly advocates that the delegated acts which will prescribe the technical screening criteria are developed in a fully transparent way in close cooperation and consultation with all relevant stakeholders. They should take into account EU sectoral legislation, as well as Member States’ priorities, in a comprehensive and coherent way. They cannot be seen as a mere technical exercise.
“Ports fully subscribe to the Green Deal ambitions and are ready to be a partner in the implementation. European Ports invest both in infrastructure and instruments to facilitate the greening and decarbonization of the port and its stakeholders,” Isabelle Ryckbost, ESPO’s Secretary General, commented. “But, at the same time, ports are investing to develop new activities which in themselves will contribute to implement the Green Deal agenda: circular economy and carbon capture and storage projects are good examples of this. We therefore hope that the clear priorities set out in EU funding mechanisms, such as the Connecting Europe Facility, remain valid and are not overruled by the taxonomy framework. Secondly, we must hope the taxonomy’s screening criteria are not curtailing the ports’ decarbonization paths or ignoring the positive effects of clustering transport, energy and industry ,” Ryckbost concluded.