11th March 2016
One of the South West MEPs will continue to oppose measures he says threatens to turn back the clock at British ports.
The European Parliament has 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, like Bristol and Falmouth, from the regulation were defeated.
The report will now be subject to negotiations between the Parliament, Member State transport ministers and the European Commission.
South West MEP Ashley Fox 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.
Bristol Port employs or directly supports the employment of over ten thousand in people in and around the City. Falmouth is equally as important as it supports over 40,000 cruise passengers a year, 2500 jobs and is a base to thirty companies from across the world all providing local employment.
Mr Fox added, "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.