On 9 May 2012 the General Meeting of the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) was held in Sopot, followed over the next two days by the Organisation's annual conference. The debate was jointly hosted by the ports of Gdansk and Gdynia. Two days of intensive discussions on 10-11 May 2012 focused mainly on financing port operations and investment projects. The conference gathered almost 250 experts in port cargo turnover and representatives of European seaports authorities. Despite a wide range of diverse legal solutions and the disproportion in throughput among the ports in Europe, ESPO is developing an interesting vision for growth shared by all of the ports. Following the rapidly changing political and economic situation, the seaports' position has been raised to the rank of logistics hubs within the framework of the consolidating Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) and boosting the living standards of communities in countries operating their own port facilities. The special mission shared by seaports in the 21st century requires that authorities at all levels and in all EU Member States should make every effort in order to ensure faster growth of the seaports that are in weaker condition by providing equal opportunities of competing in the cargo service sector.
ESPO provides its members with a strong voice in the European Union. However, the development of a common port policy governed by transparent and simple regulations, ensuring sustainable growth and at the same time protecting the local interests can only be possible on the condition that a set of principles respected by all countries has been agreed on. Such agreement must involve actions not only in ports' internal structures but also in their political and economic surroundings.
The conference in Sopot concluded with the announcement of a Manifest addressed to port authorities, leaders of EU Member States and the EU government. It emphasized that removing development barriers can be achieved mainly by providing port authorities with economic autonomy and rational investment support. It is also important that all participants of cargo service sector, including recipients of services, as well as port operators and investment partners are treated on equal terms. It was acknowledged that the most important factors in successful port management include efforts aimed at building mutual friendliness among ports and local communities. Change in the ports management culture must also require that port authorities have better control over the entities operating on their grounds. The best practice therefore should entail streamlining of administrative procedures coupled with the consistent adherence to provisions of the law, according to PGA SA Press Office.