Planning New Container Facilities in Northern European Ports: Changes in the Industry and Policy

Special Report: Port Traffic
A Comparison of Antwerp and Rotterdam
By Valérie Lavaud-Letilleul

In Europe, the construction of MIDAs (Maritime Industrial Development Areas) stopped during the 1970s; since the beginning of the 1990s, major port development projects have focused upon container terminals. The emergence of shipping lines and stevedores as major actors in the container transportation industry has coincided with restrictions in public expenditures and the rise of environmental and employment standards. Therefore not only has the development of containerisation challenged the traditional role that port authorities used to play in port planning, but it has also tremendously changed the “flux/territory” paradigm.
However, one can observe that recent port development strategies strongly differ from one mainport to the other. The comparison of the planning processes linked to the building of new container facilities in Rotterdam – the Maasvlakte 2 - and Antwerp – the Deurganck Dock – shows that the significant differences observed mainly result from policies adopted at the national and the EU levels. Finally, governments’ choices have spatial consequences which do interfere with port competition. This in turn raises the issue of whether a new arbitration authority at the EU level is necessary.

Go to the article on