Categories: ESPO, EuropePublished On: 01.09.2020386 words1.9 min read


The European Sea Ports Organisation is the principal interface between European seaports and the European institutions and its policy makers.

ESPO represents the port authorities, port associations and port administrations of the seaports of 22 Member States of the European Union and Norway at EU political level. ESPO also has observer members in Iceland, Israel, Ukraine and United Kingdom.


Based in Brussels, the European Sea Ports Organisation ensures that seaports have a clear voice in the European Union. ESPO represents the common interests and promotes the common views and values of its members to the European institutions and its policy makers.

  • ESPO assists its members in gaining a better understanding of policy initiatives of importance to the sector.
  • ESPO assists European policy makers in better understanding the role and importance of port authorities, based both on its extensive knowledge of the sector and on reliable information and data.
  • ESPO is also engaged in a continuous dialogue with all European stakeholders in the port and maritime sector.
  • Finally, over the years, ESPO has turned into a unique knowledge network of European port authorities.
  • ESPO was created in 1993.



In 1974, the European Commission set up a Port Working Group, consisting of port authority representatives from Europe’s major ports. Early 1993, the European Sea Ports Organisation was born out of this working group, as an independent lobby for seaport interests. Founding Chairman was the late Ferdinand Suykens, former director-general of the Port of Antwerp. During its initial years of existence, the organisation established itself in Brussels, focusing on a variety of policy and technical issues. Significant initiatives were the publication of the first Environmental Code of Practice in 1994 and the establishment of EcoPorts a few years later.

The debate on the European Commission’s ports package, which was issued in 2001, marked a kind of ‘coming of age’ period for ESPO. It made members reflect and become more conscious about their role as port authorities and it strengthened the internal cohesion of the organisation.

In 2009 ESPO set up a joint office with EFIP, the European Federation of Inland Ports.