On 31 May and 1 June, the European port industry gathered in Rotterdam for the 15thedition of the ESPO annual conference.

The speakers, the port debates, the nearly 300 participants, the amazing Conference venue of the Onderzeebootloods (a hall where submarines used to be built), the surprising dinner venue at the Laurens Church and last but not least the summer temperatures made this edition again a successful event.

The central theme of the Conference was “Investing in the port of tomorrow”. The first conference day mainly focused on drivers of port investments, the ways of how port investments should be financed and the acceptance of port development and expansion. The second day of the conference was mainly dedicated to discussing the European transport infrastructure policy as it stands today, the experience with its implementation over the last three years and the ways to improve this legislative framework and the financing tools during the forthcoming financial period 2021-2027. In between those debates, different keynote speeches gave the audience food for thought and discussion on the geopolitical situation in and around Europe, climate change and Brexit.

“The conference clearly revealed that the investment requirements of European ports are enormous. It made also clear that that on top of the constant need to invest in basic infrastructure, ports are really willing and ready to invest in projects that created added value in view of preparing for challenges as decarbonisation, sustainability and digitalisation. It showed the importance of ensuring that ports are planning the “right” project. It also stressed the need to step up the share ports are receiving from the Connecting Europe Facility envelope to better reflect the important and complex role of ports and their investment pipeline,” comments Isabelle Ryckbost, Secretary General ESPO.

ESPO would like to thank the Port of Rotterdam for hosting this successful edition, the speakers and ports for participating in the different panels and of course the many delegates for joining the conference.

Presentations and pictures of the conference will be online in the coming days at

The report on the infrastructure investment needs and financing challenges of European ports, which has been prepared by ESPO and was presented during the conference can be found here.

The 2019 ESPO conference will be hosted by the North Tyrrhenian Port Network System and will take place in Livorno on 23 and 24 May 2019.

Source: ESPO