EU legislation threatens to turn back the clock at British ports

08-Mar-2016 @ 1:0

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Conservative MEPs will continue to oppose measures they say threaten to turn back the clock at British ports.

The European Parliament today voted to approve port services regulations primarily designed to address restrictive practices at EU ports, the majority of which are state-owned. However, attempts to exempt the UK's predominantly privately-run ports from the regulation were defeated.

The report will now be subject to negotiations between the Parliament, Member State transport ministers and the European Commission.

Conservative Transport Spokesman Jacqueline Foster MEP said: "I am very disappointed that our sensible proposals which recognised the unique status of British ports were not supported.

"While introducing much needed reforms in the heavily subsidised European state-owned sector, this report is overly bureaucratic for our UK system of privatised, market driven ports and threatens to take us back to the days of restrictive practices and the old Dock Labour Scheme.

"Since Margaret Thatcher put privatisation proposals in place in 1981, British ports have become some of the most successful in the world and have made a major contribution to the UK economy and provided stable, high quality jobs.

"I will not support anything that would jeopardise that success. We believe competition between ports, not prescriptive regulation on their internal operations, is a greater driver of efficiency.

"I am fully aware that both our UK port owners and trade unions remain firmly opposed to the proposal as it stands.

"I hope that when this goes back to the European Council the UK will hold its line as we will do everything we can to try and reverse these damaging measures."

Conservative MEPs are particularly concerned that the regulation will impose more bureaucracy on small UK ports and force companies taking over a port contract to employ the staff of a previous contractor, who may have lost the work for reasons such as poor performance.

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