Edouard Philippe at the “Assises de la mer”: a proactive speech and major orientations

The Prime Minister opened the 13th edition of the “Assises de l’économie de la mer” in Le Havre on 21 November and delivered a speech eagerly awaited by French maritime and port clusters. No concrete announcements rather broad guidelines.

The port of Le Havre, he knows it particularly well. It is therefore on his land that the Prime Minister, Édouard Philippe, opened the thirteenth edition of the Assises de l’économie de la mer which took place on November 21 and 22 in Le Havre. A speech eagerly awaited by the local port community but also by all sea professionals.

Only a few days after the Interministerial Committee for the Sea (Cimer) held in Brest, the Prime Minister reaffirmed an ambition, that of giving France back its maritime vocation. No concrete announcements therefore, rather broad guidelines.

Édouard Philippe wanted above all to show his determination to revitalize the country in maritime and port matters.

Sign of this voluntarism, he explains that this is the first time in France that a Cimer meets in the first six months of a five-year term “We have five years ahead of us. And in five years, we can catch up a lot, lift a lot of barriers, free up a lot of energy and why not get ahead… Because a maritime domain takes physical care, it needs to be organized, it is exploited with discernment, it is laid out like a real territory. Because the sea is a magnificent project to offer to young French people……”.

Improve the fluidity of port passage

The Prime Minister likes to remind people that he is not used to the idea that Antwerp is France’s leading port. He also concedes that the same litanies have been repeated for too long, that France does not have port traffic commensurate with its coastline, its internal market and its place in Europe.

Edouart Philippe indicated that all the ports in France have their complementarity but not all the same vocation. He mentions three systems which “clearly have a European and international interest” referring to HAROPA, Marseille-Fos and Dunkirk-Calais, sets which “must remain in the bosom of the State…”, he recalls. He believes in passing that the governance of HAROPA has “reached its limits”. Édouard Philippe thus advocates for a more unified management that includes the three ports at the same level. A mission on this subject was entrusted to the prefect François Philizot, interministerial delegate for the development of the Seine valley.

Another priority mentioned in Le Havre, that of the competitiveness of the ports which come up against the scissor effect, tax charges which increase and revenues, in particular those of the oil revenue, which decrease. The head of government intends to give more visibility on the tax burden.

It also intends to simplify procedures by reviewing in particular the rules of public domain to optimize the use of the port area and secure investors.

Édouard Philippe also mentioned as a priority the improvement of the fluidity of the port passage. “The state must support combined rail and river transport everywhere. This is why a device comparable to that of the claw aid will be maintained. I asked the competent services to work very quickly on defining its new terms for 2018, in conjunction with the professionals”.

In Le Havre, the Prime Minister is aware that river access to Port 2000 is on everyone’s mind. A public consultation on the subject has been launched. Whatever the solution chosen (creation of a dyke, extension of the multimodal terminal or optimization of the current organization), the head of government recalled that the State will make a financial commitment.

The former mayor of Le Havre regretted the delay for offshore wind turbines. “From 2018, we will launch preliminary studies with a view to the commitment of future calls for tenders on floating wind turbines in Brittany and the Mediterranean…” . Édouard Philippe also promises a new impetus for the National Maritime School (ENSM) with a rapprochement between the different sites, a rapprochement with other schools including the prestigious Naval School with the eventual creation of “a real naval academy in France…”.

Source /// (Software translation) Article by Jacques Laurent – The letter from the Journal de la Marine Marchande – N°5079-5 of November 2017