In June 2015 was held the European Short Sea Shipping Conference 2015 in Copenhagen. Main focus of the Copenhagen Conference were the three main priorities of Motorways of the Sea, namely environment, relevance to the international logistics chain, and safety and the human element particularly assessing how they impact on Short Sea Shipping.
The ultimate aim was the integration of short sea shipping fully into the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) Core Network Corridors. Every TEN-T corridor starts or ends in a port, connecting to maritime operations supporting either internal or external trade operations. 130 maritime stakeholders from 24 countries gathered in Copenhagen to discuss the outlook of Short Sea Shipping (SSS).
The event was organized by the Maritime Development Center of Europe, in Denmark, and chaired by the Principal Administrator of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Mobility and Transport, Mr. José Anselmo. High-level speakers such as Anne Steffenson (Danish Shipowners Association) and Brian Simpson (European Coordinator for Motorways of the Sea) welcomed the participants. Subsequently, delegates could enjoy four sessions, focusing on the market dynamics of SSS, the Motorways of the Sea and financing schemes, port and technology issues, and policy and cost issues. In these sessions there was a particular focus on the challenges of SSS.
The conference showed that size matters, as one of the main challenges for SSS put forward by the speakers was the increasing size of vessels. Other challenges for SSS were related to policy-making, including environmental legislation, cumbersome bureaucratic procedures, and a lack of harmonization of legislation. Dr. P. G. Zacharioudakis was invited to participate as a speaker during the 2nd session on the Motorways of the Sea. In his presentation he delignated the situation and the challenges that presently is facing the Shortsea Shipping Sector of the East Mediterranean.
To help SSS overcome some of these challenges the EU has developed different financing mechanisms. For example, financial instruments from the European Investment Plan and the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) were developed to facilitate access to lending. Although more limited, CEF also provides grants for transport projects. Mr. Anselmo has characterized Motorways of the Sea as a success story to date: between 2007 and 2013 some Euro450m has been spent on the concept, well ahead of the forecast Euro300m and has been encouraging ports and shipowners to submit applications for grants from substantial TEN-T funds, saying: “Funds are available and now is the time to apply.”