The management of the ports

The model of governance, or management, of the ports of general interest always gives rise to intense debates on how this should be done. Over the last few years, the Port Authorities have been confronted with key aspects such as their role in the flow of international trade, the liberalisation of maritime transport, the deregulation of certain services, the concentration of companies or the geographical centralisation of the big port operators which have obliged them to consider their form of government.

Of all the models of port governance, the most widespread in Spain and in most countries of the European Union is the landord. It is based on a State entity being the owner of the land, and through a concession contract, it assigns the exploitation and management of the port infrastructures to a second entity, which can be a private, public or mixed company, depending on the legislation applicable to the case.

At Stock Logistic, as experts in international transport, we are always aware of the trends in the maritime sector and all those challenges it faces (digitalisation, economies of scale, the future of the sector…)

Other models of port governance

Most experts speak of different models of port governance, in addition to the landord:

  • The public service port model refers to those ports whose ownership, planning, management and exploitation is totally in the hands of the public sector. That is to say that the State owns the land, the infrastructure and the superstructure and also provides all the port services. This is a model in decline.
  • The second model is the toolport model is based on the fact that the public sector is the owner of the infrastructure, and is responsible for the operation and management of the port, but grants some services (stevedoring, piloting, supply or storage) to legal business units with some percentage of representation by the State or purely private.
  • Finally  the private service port model involves the privatization of all elements, including land ownership, with only the public sector retaining standard regulatory oversight power. The first case of application of this model took place in 1981, with the privatisation of all British ports, which were under the control of the Associated British Ports Holding.

Port Governance Observatory

Ports of the State, an organisation dependent on the Ministry of Transport, has created a Port Governance Observatory in order to determine the most appropriate model of regulation, promotion, financing and application for the port system of general interest.

Its functions are:

  • Control over what characterizes the essence of the port system. It implies having a certain regulatory power and capacity to supervise its compliance.
  • Proactive coordination, both in the internal jurisdiction of the port system and with the rest of the Administration, to ensure the fit of the ports in the territorial and urban planning as well as in the transport, logistics and trade networks.
  • Support and technical support, together with an institutional backing to the performance of each Port Authority, all based on the accumulation and knowledge of all disciplines directly related to the port area.

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