Programme in facts

Finalised projects: 90
EUR committed: 215.0 mln
Main project outputs > 280
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Country specific information

Transnational projects – a tool for port cooperation

Located by the Elblag River in close range to the Vistula Lagoon is the Polish port of Elblag, the first municipally-owned sea port in Poland. The heritage of the port is complex, connected to both Prussian, German and Polish history. Entering the Lagoon from the Baltic Sea requires a passage through the strait on Russian territorial waters, which implies complicated administrative procedures. In addition, the passage through the strait is restricted barely for the vessels under the Russian and Polish flag, with no access allowed for other EU countries.

This very unique situation of an EU port confronted with access limitations for incoming and outgoing ships is reflected in its economic standings. The port of Elblag is in need for vast investments to improve the hinterland and seaward connections, the latter to be possibly facilitated through constructing a direct canal through the Vistula Spit to avoid entering the Russia's territorial waters.

The city of Elblag hosted TransBaltic and Baltic Ports Organization's third joint seminar, this time with a focus on the development perspectives for small and medium sized Baltic Sea ports. Such ports face several challenges, like inadequate hinterland connections, unbalance in an export/import pattern, stringent environmental regulations, complicated management and ownership structures and last but not least - the strong competition. The different constitutions of ownership and management are visible throughout Europe but the dominating model in the Baltic Sea area is that the port is owned by the state, municipality or region. A growing trend in Sweden of the ownership being taken over by private stakeholders enables the competing ports to establish cooperation ties and find own niches. Crucial for the small and medium sized ports is to have an anchoring among the local industry and acceptance from the local society. Attracting larger cargo volumes necessitates also collaboration with terminals and dry ports, which in turn may secure investments in its road and rail hinterland infrastructure.

Discussion at the EU level is to large extent overlooking the development prospects of small and medium size ports. Transnational projects like TransBaltic can in that respect serve as a tool for highlighting interests of this particular segment of the maritime economy and assist in formulating common views on how the cargo flows should be handled in order to diminish risk for competing interests.

A report summarising the seminar is currently under preparation and will be published on the TransBaltic website in August.

published 21.06.2011