The Valencia Port Authority in Spain has given the go ahead for the specialist finished vehicles handling facility, Valencia Terminal Europa (VTE), to use personnel not contracted to the port stevedoring company Sevasa-Sagep, during the loading and unloading of Ro Ro vessels.
In future, VTE will use its own staff or casual labourers to drive General Motors, Fiat or Ford vehicles on and off vessels. Nevertheless, the ruling has an interesting twist: VTE will still be able to make use of stevedores provided by Sevasa if the port company presents an offer that is either similar or better in terms of both quality and cost than that of its competitors.
The handling of finished vehicles in Spanish ports has always been undertaken by regulated port stevedoring companies, unlike in other European countries. However, this task has now been reclassified as a ‘commercial service’, meaning that anybody can do it.
The move towards reclassification was included in the most recent Ports Law, although the lack of specific regulations has meant that, up until now, it has not been used. However, Valencia port authority has now agreed a package of measures governing this activity, thereby allowing VTE to contract out handling if it so wishes to do so.
Previously, the Spanish stevedoring set-up has been directly challenged by the European Commission, which took the Spanish government to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg in 2015, arguing that the current model – which allows no effective competition between providers – breaks directives. The Court found in favour of the Commission and has ordered Spain to radically change its existing stevedoring model, although subsequent progress in this area has been extremely slow.