The EU funding programme Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), which supports projects that have a significant positive impact on the European transport network, is investing €10.91 million into the Port of Antwerp in the form of a grant aimed at helping increase container capacity.
The Port of Antwerp says the CEF grant exemplifies the importance of the port as a major European hub in a global network, as well as the need for future-oriented infrastructure.
“This European support is 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,” said Annick De Ridder, port alderman.
“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.”
In the first six months of this year, 120 million tonnes in total were shipped through the Port, an increase of 5% compared to the same period in 2020 that has brought numbers back to the pre-coronavirus levels of 2019.
The growth has continued in spite of the arrival of Brexit-related changes to trade: the Port of Antwerp recorded growth of 11.1% in total throughput with the UK and 12.1% with Ireland in the first half of the year, compared with the first six months of 2020.
“Despite the impact of the coronavirus crisis, the world economy is recovering at a rapid pace and Port of Antwerp is also seeing a clear increase in all cargo flows, with the container segment the biggest grower,” the Port said in a press release.
“Additional capacity in the port of Antwerp is indispensable to absorb the expected growth and to consolidate its position as a key node in a global network.”
The €10.91 million from the CEF will go to the port’s Extra Container Capacity Antwerp (ECA) project, which aims to increase the amount of goods being transported by barge and rail in order to reduce emissions, while addressing a bottleneck of container traffic the Port is already facing.
The funding will help with a study into sustainable solutions that take into account a balance between economy, environment and climate.
“The container segment has continued to grow, even during the challenging past year,” said Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO of Port of Antwerp.
“This confirms the urgent need for additional capacity. However, just as important is the way in which this extra capacity is generated: in a sustainable way, with respect for the climate and the environment. For that very reason, we are working hard on a smarter project that is future- and climate-proof.”
More concretely, the project involves designing and creating the “dock of the future,” with hyper-efficient terminals that have a low carbon footprint, reduced emissions from ships, and stricter regulations on everything from shore power to construction techniques.
The Port of Antwerp has been involved in a number of initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint, including switching to LED lighting, expanding the network of bike paths, and the introduction of new energy-efficient tugboats as part of ongoing efforts to greenify its entire fleet.
They were also recently chosen to head a new international consortium with the goal of making Europe’s ports greener, aiming to be Europe’s first Green Port.
“We are very pleased with the European support for three of our Flemish investment projects,” said Lydia Peeters, Flemish Minister of Mobility and Public Works.
“In this way, we will shape the future mobility of Flanders and of Europe. This will give our Flemish economy an enormous boost.”
The CEF launched its call for projects earlier this year, and approved the list of selected ones (the Port of Antwerp’s being among them) on Thursday.