Workshop on “Regeneration of Port Cities and Port Areas”

Press Releases

24 May 2017

On 16 May 2017, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU jointly organised a workshop on"Regeneration of Port Cities and Port Areas", in collaboration with EFIP, ESPO, FEPORT, AIVP and ECSA. Over 65 representatives from the industry, cities/regions and European institutions were present and exchanged ideas on the key question of the event: ‘how to strengthen city-port relations?’.

EFIP moderated a session on ‘Promoting Ports and Cities Synergies to achieve Integrated Territorial Development’. Among the speakers were Philippe Matthis, President of the AIVP and Deputy CEO of the Port of Brussels, Eileen Crowley from the Cork City Council, Rudolf Schicker, from the city of Vienna and coordinator of the PAC 10 in the Danube Strategy, and Uwe von Bargen, presenting the experience with sustainable management systems from the Port of Bremen, winner of the ESPO Award 2016.

In this picture from left to right: Rudolf Schicker, Philippe Matthis, Alexander van den Bosch, Eileen Crowley, Uwe von Bargen.

Originally, ports are the “raison d’être” of many cities in Europe. For centuries, they developed hand in hand, the port generating prosperity for the city and vice versa. But relationships between ports and cities have changed over time due to the industrial revolution, globalisation and consolidation of the terminal industry, and the growth of cities. Most ports moved out of the city and relationships began to suffer despite the fact that 90% of European ports are urban ports.

Now, the relationship between ports and cities shows a new dynamism, driven on both sides by the aspiration to revive ports after the recent crisis, while at the same time making the most of their potential as a stimulus for the economy, life and regeneration. Whilst ports can play a role in urban logistics and the smart city concept, the impact of port industrial activities is one of the most sensitive issues in the relationship between ports and cities. These daily challenges of new port-cities relations were widely discussed and debated in 3 sessions.

Eileen Crowley during her presentation.

The workshop was concluded with the statement that economically, culturally and socially ports and cities are indisputably linked to each other and there is more and more mutual understanding of both interests and spillover effects. But continuous interaction supported by a long-term, sustainable vision and integrated management approach is needed.

Focus on the different sessions:

Session 1: Opportunities and challenges to regenerate port cities and areas

  • The pressure on port-city relations will increase because of climate change and environmental requests. Need to invest in tailor-made bottom-up approaches, considering each port-city relation as unique.
  • To reinforce the link between local heritage and contemporary trends is essential: It is important to pay attention to preserving the DNA of each port-city to avoid having uniformed architectures and homogeneous concepts implemented everywhere.
  • Need to make the port relevant to all the different stakeholders by developing a functional and spatial mix of the port area.

Session 2: How can the European Union support port cities regeneration?

  • Increasing attention of the European Commission about port-city relations. A lot of different initiatives are being developed by different DGs working in collaboration (MOVE, MARE, REGIO, ENER). Their main areas of action are the provision of funding, the exchange of best practices and the policy making.
  • Developing macro-regional policies / sea-basin strategies and the urban agenda of the EU is crucial for port-city relations. Clustering strategies in a holistic cross-sectorial approach is necessary.
  • Need for more interactions between the different scales of governance: local-regional, national, European and global dimensions.

Session 3: Promoting ports and cities synergies to achieve integrated territorial development.

  • The main areas of collaboration concern the conversion of abandoned port sites in an ambitious mix of architecture programmes, along with the reduction of port external impacts by fully investing in greening tools. 
  • The insurance of a sustainable urban development by balancing all the interests and different needs (socio-economic and environmental needs).
  • The creation of a new social acceptance by securing the participation of citizens/NGO in synergies with the local authorities and the port management. This would ensure the long-term viability of port projects, thanks to dedicated port integrated territorial development platforms.

All pictures: © European Union / Gustavo Lopez Cutillas

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