In my opinion, the present importance of MoS is just a fraction of what could be in the medium-term future. The statistics published by the Shortsea Promotion Centre-Spain show that in some Mediterranean lanes, especially in the trades Spain-Italy, SSS and MoS services are well developed and move over 40% of the total bilateral trade. Even in these trades there is still a growing potential by increasing the service frequency. The degree of development in other trades is much lower. For instance, with France, Great Britain and Belgium. I am sure that, in a next future, the penetration of SSS and MoS will be higher in most trades and so will be their contribution to sustainable transport. Obviously, the new sulphur regulations will be an obstacle in the first years, but in the medium term I see a brilliant future for MoS in Europe.
Which kind of green incentives do you see as a possible the solution for the promotion of maritime transport taking care of non-distortion of competition?
In trades where the market is not fully developed yet (such as the Spanish Atlantic trades), it may be still possible supporting supply without distorting competition. The recent decision by the European Comission granting support from Marco Polo II to the Suardiaz project for the Vigo-Saint Nazaire MoS line confirm this. But in the trades between Spain and Italy it would be rather difficult today to introduce incentives to supply without distorting competition with existing operators. That’s the reason why it is generally accepted that in the Spanish Mediterranean coast incentives should be addressed to the demand, through the so-called Ecobonus or some similar system.
What do you think about the promotion of clean fuel in maritime transport and about the LNG infrastructure in ports? Do you think that the SECA rule in the Baltic will affect also the Med area? How do you think about the situation in Spain regarding this topic?
We are witnessing a rapid growing of the interest for LNG bunkering, and not only in the SECA areas, but also in Spain. The promotion measures you mention can be seen as a compensation for the increased fuel cost of complying with the MARPOL Annex VI rules. As far as they are public aids, they should be carefully evaluated to avoid market distortion, as said above. I think that the best the States can do is focusing in their facilitating role, developing the necessary international, European and national regulations which are urgently needed. Maybe with some exceptions, the development of LNG bunkering should be based on the constitution of partnership agreements between one or several shipping lines, the providers of LNG and equipment and surely the port Authority.
What do you think about the impact of ICT on the maritime transport? Do you think that the implementation of integrated ICT solutions on the logistic chain could be useful also for shipping lines? And What do you think about the data sharing between shipping lines and the other actors along the logistic chain? What’s the importance of the implementation of European directive 65 on national maritime single window on shipping lines?
Any facilitation of the formalities required to maritime transport will be useful. Also in what refers to the exchange of documents and all kind of information through ICT applications. But I believe that the high degree of development of SSS and MoS in some trades demonstrates that even in the present situation of these two subjects, combined transport including a sea leg is viable and, once the user is familiar with the procedures, these are not that cumbersome. Therefore, while recognizing that advancing in these fields will be useful, I do not believe that the future of MoS depend on these aspects. Many people speak about extending SECAs to the Mediterranean. I do not believe that the Med will be designated as a SECA by the IMO, because of political reasons (the northern African countries probably will oppose) and also due to the lack of a solid environmental justification.
Talking about MOS we have also to take into account environmental, safety and security aspects. What do you think about these topics and how could we tackle them in the maritime transport? Which are the main critical points today in these domains?
Shipping is surely the industry with more comprehensive safety and security regulations adopted and implemented at international level though many conventions which are in a permanent review process. As a result of this international regulation, all statistics show a clear trend to fewer accidents. The EU Transport ministers have recently recognized in their Athens Declaration, that the EU and its member States should refrain from adopting new European safety and security rules and concentrate in the strict and converging implementation of the IMO conventions, including making joint proposals to the IMO to improve these conventions, as and when appropriate.
Which are from your point of view the main points to be considered for the future deployment of MOS?
The improvement of the port-hinterland connections, by rail but also by road is a critical point. In some countries, such as Spain, 95% of the SSS cargo (and especially of the ro-ro SS cargo) enters or leaves by road. Therefore, although rail connections are important for the future, the present of the MoS is the co-operation between road and maritime transport. In Spain, in the last 20 years there have been important investments in inside-port infrastructures, but many ports still need to improve their connections with high capacity highways. This is really urgent and critical.