The European funding programme Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), which supports projects that have a significant positive impact on the European transport network, is to award funding of €10.91 million to the complex project Extra Container Capacity Antwerp (ECA). By awarding funding to this project, Europe is not only underlining the importance of the port of Antwerp as a major European hub that forms part a global network, but also of the corresponding need for future-proof infrastructure. This European support will be used to carry out detailed studies to identify the most sustainable solution, in order to create a supported project that reconciles the needs of the economy, the environment and our climate.
Funding totalling €10.91 million to perform studies
Earlier this year, the European Commission launched a call for applications for funding under the CEF programme, which supports European transport policy. Port of Antwerp and the Department of Mobility and Public Works submitted a joint application in connection with the studies that form part of the complex project Extra Container Capacity Antwerp. Today, the European Member States approved the list of selected projects. ECA is therefore set to receive €10.91 million of European funding to achieve its ambitious objectives in the areas of sustainable growth and multimodal transport. The co-financing will be used to finance the planned studies that form part of the elaboration phase of the project. Those studies are essential in order to ensure that the project is implemented in a way that most effectively serves the needs of the economy, while also enhancing quality of life. Besides expansion, the project will also focus on optimising the use of land within the existing port area. The technical study into the design of the second tidal dock envisages a solution that will ensure maximum efficiency, while minimising the impact on the environment.
An important hub linking Europe and the world
Despite the impact of the coronavirus crisis, the world economy is recovering at a rapid pace and Port of Antwerp is also seeing a significant increase in all cargo flows, with the container segment witnessing the biggest growth. Extra capacity in the port of Antwerp is therefore essential in order to absorb the expected growth and to consolidate its position as a key hub within a global network. The funding from the CEF confirms the high added value of the ECA project as a forward-looking response to the bottleneck already being faced by container traffic. ECA seeks to bring about a modal shift, in which goods will increasingly be transported by inland navigation and rail. This will reduce emissions and optimise the connection with the hinterland, which will be of value both to the economy and also to the environment.
A ‘dock of the future’
In response to Europe’s ambitions under the ‘Green Deal’ and the Flemish mobility policy, ECA represents a crucial step in Port of Antwerp’s vision of being a home port for a sustainable future. Expanding the port’s container capacity will therefore primarily take the form of innovative solutions that serve to create infrastructure that is both future-proof and climate-proof at the same time. In this way, Port of Antwerp will continue to play a pioneering role in the greening of the container sector and will set a new standard in that regard. The ‘dock of the future’ will take the form of hyper-efficient terminals and high productivity, combined with an exceptionally low footprint. Emissions from ships and from terminals in the port will be kept to a minimum by means of low-emission handling technologies, shore-based power, circular construction techniques and stricter regulations. In terms of logistics, ECA will in turn act as the lever that will enable transportation to become more environmentally friendly through the use of rail and inland navigation. Constructive cooperation and European funding will be indispensable if this greening process is to become a reality.
Lydia Peeters, the Flemish Minister for Mobility and Public Works: “We are very excited to have been allocated European funding for three of our Flemish investment projects. This will enable us to shape the future mobility of Flanders and of Europe and will also provide a significant boost to the Flemish economy. The ECA project is an example of a project that focuses on future-oriented infrastructure: a sustainable solution that responds to the urgent need for extra capacity in the port of Antwerp.”
Annick De Ridder, Port Alderman: “This European support once again confirms the importance of ECA for our port, and also underlines the value that Europe attaches to this dossier. The importance of the container sector for the port of Antwerp should not be underestimated, and our growth figures in this segment confirm the need for extra capacity year after year. This European support is also confirmation of the important position that the port of Antwerp occupies as a gateway to and from the world for our Flemish and European companies.”
Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO of Port of Antwerp: “The container segment has continued to grow, even during the challenging year we have just experienced. This therefore confirms the urgent need for additional capacity. However, the manner in which we create that additional capacity is at least as important. It must be achieved in a sustainable way that respects the climate and the environment, so that is why we are fully engaged in realising a more carefully designed project that is future-proof and climate-friendly at the same time. We are setting a new standard in the container business as a means of accelerating the greening of the industry.”