Sectorial Reports

Port Development


The geographic location of Portugal determines the transformations of its Atlantic façade in a big logistic platform. This platform should be centred in the Portuguese ports, in its modernisation and in the development of the necessary infrastructures to create inter modal interface and the connection between the country's interior and the European Continent.

This ambition of transforming Portugal in an added value services platform will be supported by the implementation of the "maritime highways". The integration of the ports in the logistics chain, associated to the reduction of the customs formalities and the information electronic transmission, are factors that will turn the short sea shipping transport more attractive with superior quality levels.

For the period 2000-2006, the EU has allocated £2.5bn to be invested in Portugal in the maritime-port sector with a view to upgrading its infrastructures and accesses, restructuring and modernising its technological and communications systems, developing its logistics capacity and becoming an integral part of the Trans-European transport network. This will be the last opportunity for Portugal to benefit from EU funds for port development.

The Portuguese government is planning a significant involvement of the private sector in port management and is encouraging harbour authorities to concentrate on planning co-ordination and regulation leaving operations to the private sector. An example is the 30 year concession awarded to PSA Corporation to operate the Port of Sines. Its estimated total investment is of US$235.8m to upgrade their infrastructures. Planned expenditure would go on improving access to harbours at Viana do Castelo, Aveiro and Figueira da Foz. Some £150m are to be invested in the establishment of multi-modal logistic platforms integrating maritime, rail, road and air transport.

Market Characteristics:

The Portuguese port sector is under the umbrella of the Ministry of Infrastructure and more specifically under the Secretary of State for Maritime and Port Administration. The main government organisations include:
  • Port and Maritime National Council - port and maritime policy, investment policy and tariffs;
  • Port and Maritime Institute - supervision, co-ordination of strategic planning and development, normalisation, regulation and inspection.


According to INE from January to September 2005, 9,042 commercial boats entered Portuguese ports. The total movement of goods in the Portuguese ports was of 47,013,000 tons (+5.9%), 38,319,000 tons in international traffic and 8,694,000 tons in national traffic. international traffic was responsible for 88.5% of the total of goods unloaded and 62.5% of loaded goods. In maritime transport, the total movement of goods in ports was 30,295,000 tons, 4,981,000 tons in national traffic and 5,314,000 tons in international traffic.

Main Commercial Ports:

Ports of Douro and Leixões

The Port of Leixões comprises the largest seaport
infrastructure in the North of Portugal and is one of the most important in the country. With 5 km of quays, 55ha of embankments and 120ha of wet area, Leixões has excellent road, rail and maritime accesses and is equipped with advanced information systems for vessels' traffic control and management.

The port of Leixões (41º 11' N, 8º 42' W) serves the city of Porto and northern Portugal. It is an artificial harbour on the Atlantic Ocean, within the town of Matosinhos, 9 km north of central Porto.

Porto is prevented by a sandbar from having a deepwater harbour of its own. The port is the largest in the north of Portugal and is one of the most important sea ports in the country, 25% of Portuguese trade and 14 million tons of cargo pass through the port every year.

The port has high productivity levels and can handle 25 containers per hour, with 3,100 vessels calling each year, being one of the most competitive and versatile multi-purpose ports in the country. Around 3.000 vessels a year come through Leixões, carrying all sorts of goods: textiles, granites, wines, timber, vehicles, cereals, containers, scrap metal, iron and steel, alcohol, schnapps, sugar, oil, molasses, petroleum products, and even passengers from Cruise Liners.

Benefiting from a strategic location with a hinterland rich in industry and commerce, the Port of Leixões has a privileged position in the context of the European port system. It operates 365 days a year with high productivity levels and with reduced vessels turnaround time at the quays. The bar entrance is always open to navigation, without sea tide restrictions
It possesses two container terminals; an oil terminal; a roll-on/roll-off terminal; quays for liquid bulk, solid bulk, general break-bulk cargo handling and a passenger terminal.

Leixões harbour is formed by two curved breakwaters that are 5,240 feet (1,597 m) and 3,756 feet (1,145 m) long.

Technical features
Location: Northern Portugal near the city of Porto on the Atlantic coast
No of Deepwater Quays: 2 designated container quays
Length of Quay: 5km in total
North Container Terminal: 360m
South Container Terminal: 540m
Rail Connections Available: Linked to the national railway system
Warehousing/Storage: North Container Terminal: 3,000 TEUs and 96 reefer plugs; South Container Terminal: 12,000 TEUs and 208 reefer plugs

Port of Aveiro

It has a north terminal, south terminal (both for general cargo and bulks) and Chemical Terminal; Port valued at £137m. This terminal is endowed for the general loads movement and solid bulk. The principal goods are the cement, cereals, metallic profiles, wood agglomerates and clays.

Technical features
Location: Approximately 70km south of Porto
Nº of Terminals: 3
Quays: Northern Terminal: 650m, -10m depth
South Terminal: 400m, -7m depth
Chemical terminal: 4 weighbridges, -8 m depth
Fishing Quay: 680m, -5m depth
Rail Connections Available: Linked to the national railway system
Warehousing/storage: northern terminal: : 200,000 m2 flat area
Ten pavilions for machinery, 2 with 125m2 and 8 with 100 m2; one warehouse, 1 350m2; two electric weighing machines with 80 ton capacity and one service building.
Special liquid chemical storage units;
Southern terminal: 72 hectares of logistic area
Fishing quay: special cooling facilities & storage freezers

Port of Lisbon

This is a multifunctional port that moves annually millions of tons in maritime traffic. The main goods are various amongst fractioned loads, cars, containers, solid and liquid bulks, general loads, cereals, iron, project cargo, fruit, etc.

Technical features
Location: Located on the Tagus estuary, which is 25 km long and between 2 km and 14 km wide.
No of Deepwater Quays: Adjacent depths of -4 to -17m
Terminals: 3 container terminals (Alcântara, Stª Apolonia, Santos).
Alcântara container terminal, Santa Apolónia container terminal, Santos terminal (traffic for the islands of Madeira and the Azores); Quays for general cargo and bulks (liquid and dry); Ro-Ro, Agribulk terminal, oil products terminals and passengers; Port valued at £181m;
Rail Connections Available: The port is fully linked to the national rail network
Warehousing/Storage: Covered area: 250,000 square meters, including warehouses, storage and other service buildings. Open air storage: 760,000 square meters, providing bonded warehouses, free quays and licensed areas allotted to private operators
Open air storage: 760,000 square metres, providing bonded warehouses, free quays and licensed areas allotted to private operators
Boundaries : The port of Lisbon is situated at latitude 38º 42 minutes N and longitude 9º and 6 minutes W, the centre of the Portuguese coastline. Maximum tidal rise is 4.4 metres. The port's main access channel has a depth of 14.5 metres LST.
Business location: Lisbon is a fine natural deepwater harbour, as the westernmost point of mainland Europe, with more than 1,000 years' experience in sea trade.
Lisbon is a key centre for distribution and transhipment - a role that has grown in importance with the closer trading links with its fellow members of the European Union. A notable feature of Lisbon is the exceptional long length and spacious layout of its harbour. As multifunction port, it handles close on 13 million tonnes of waterborne cargo annually. This traffic covers a wide range of commodities, including break-bulk, cars, containers, dry and liquid bulk, general cargo, grain, ore, iron, project cargo, fruit and RORO.
With dedicated cargo terminals on both sides of the river, Lisbon prefers to handle liquid bulk and other sensitive cargo mostly on the south bank, away from the city itself. Other specialised facilities, including cement plants and grain silos are spread along the northern bank between Lisbon and the upriver port of Vila Franca de Xira.
Accessibility: Lisbon is accessible by all modes of transport. The port is linked to the national rail network, allowing it to take advantage of block train services to speed containers on their way to and from the north. In recent years, Lisbon has adapted well to modern requirements for multimodal cargo handling facilities- particularly for containers and ro-ro traffic. Lisbon's cargo handling specialists are equipped to provide fast, smooth turnarounds for modern shipping, while an improved network of roads and railway allows freight to be moved to and from the hinterland of Portugal and Spain with maximum efficiency.
Industry and Trade: Short sea container trade is continuing to grow and Lisbon Port Authority has been working with other ports to open new feeder routes. Lisbon has strong links with ports in northern Europe and the UK, as well as the Spanish port of Algeciras.
Lisbon's principal container terminals of Alcântara, Santa Apolonia and Santos are located on the Northern Bank, where the quayside extends to a total length of 18m. The Alcântara terminal is linked to the national rail network and block train services helped Liscont to develop a useful level of trade with the Port of Vigo, in northern Spain, and with northern Portugal.

Ports of Setúbal and Sesimbra

It has a strategic position of high importance of hinterland which includes all the main production centres south of the River Mondego (i.e. the southern half of the country) and in Spanish Extremadura, and situated on the crossroads of the main north-south and east-west sea routes. In terms of accessibility has a rapid direct international road and rail links and excellent accessibility by sea (-12m ZH). The services available include purpose-built terminals for roll-on roll-off, containers, unitized and bulk cargoes, dedicated to quality, reliability and efficiency.

Technical features
The Port of Setúbal has an elaborate range of infrastructures dedicated to serving ships and shipments of all kinds, with quayside equipment, parking, storage sites and security suitable for all varieties of port operations
Location: The port is located 40km south of Lisbon
Connections available: direct road access to motorways outside urban zone; 151km from the Spanish border and 600km by motorway to Madrid.
Direct rail links between the general cargo and container terminals and national and international lines. Electric rail links with Setúbal.
Terminals and areas: general cargo terminal, solid and liquid bulk terminals, shipyard (big vessels), customs Inspection and borders inspection area.
The undergoing projects include the expansion of solid bulk terminals and ro-ro terminal; cement new terminals, coke and clinker new terminal, new logistic area, tugs new quay, new pleasure docks, improvement fishing conditions in, environment plan and recovery and urban areas recovery.

Port of Sines

Location: The port is located 58 miles south Lisbon. Located on the southwest coast of Portugal (Latitude: 37º 57' North, Longitude: 08º 52' West) at 58 nautical miles south from Lisbon, the Port of Sines is a deepwater port, wide open to the sea, offering a natural rocky seabed with no need for dredging. The Port of Sines is one of the few deepwater ports, equipped with shelter and berthing maritime infrastructures, being thus able to receive very large vessels.

Rail connections available: The zone is linked to the national and international rail network by means of an electrified line from the port. There are dedicated branch lines linking certain areas of the industrial Zone to the national network.

Warehousing/Storage: 300 ha of infrastructure sites for the installation of industries and services. A business centre, with an air-conditioned building of 16,000 sq m., with 6,000 sq. m. office space available, managed by PGS Industrial Park Services

4 terminals: Petroleum, Petrochemical, Multipurpose and general cargo, besides a fishing & recreational harbour

Multipurpose Terminals
Protected by two coastal barriers, and covering a total area of over 112 hectares, the terminal has an loading bay of 655m, and depths of -18m allowing cargo ships of up 160 000 DWT to dock. Two ships can dock at the same time, as long as the total length does not exceed 580m. The new 226m quay is equipped for Ro-Ro and depths of -16m allow the loading of general and container cargo

General Cargo terminal
Constituted by a northern wharf of 180m length and -6m, and a south wharf of 115m and of -8m, which permits ships of circa 5 000 tons of DWT to dock.

Terminal XXI
The container terminal, named Terminal XXI, is under the responsibility of the PSA Corporation of Singapore (30 years concession), with a total investment forecast amounting to €190m by 2015 in infrastructures, equipment, breakwater and accesses. With these investments Sines stands to become a major route for transhipment containers in the Atlantic and Mediterranean routes.

In the first phase, the quay length is of 320 meters, with flat area of 13, 5 hectares, a sea-barrier of 1 150 meters, with the capacity to handle 250,000 TEUs per year. By 2015, a total length of 940m quay is expected, with 36,4 hectares of flat area, ten cranes and a sea-barrier of 1,450m, with the terminal's handling capacity in the order of 1,35 million TEUs per year.

Natural Gas terminal
The Natural Gas Terminal was set up in Sines as an alternative supplier to the gas pipe that comes from Argelia. The terminal complements capacity supplied to industry and serves to anticipate an increase in domestic and industrial consumption, and in the production of energy, namely by the new combined cycle electricity plant whilst still supplying urban areas and industries not served by the national gas grid.

Secondary Ports:

Port of Viana do Castelo

The commercial port has capacity to receive more than 900,000 tonnes of cargo per year, involving ships with draught up to 8 meters and length up to 180 meters. It is open to navigation 24 hours a day 365 days a year. It is quite calm and protected by a 2km long channel that makes both manoeuvring and access relatively easy. It is a modern port, well equipped, moving solid bulk (cement, china clay, fertilisers and wood chips), liquid bulk (asphalt) and general cargo (wood in logs and pallets, aluminium, kraft paper, steel, granite, etc), and roll-on/roll-off cargo. The port is served by the national road network and the project to link the port to both the motorway and the national rail - the Minho line - networks is in its final phase.

Port of Figueira da Foz

Bulk terminal and commercial quay (general cargo);

Port of Portimão

Commercial quay for general cargo, Ro-Ro and cruise vessels;

Port of Faro

Commercial zone with a general cargo quay and a pier for liquid combustibles handling.

Secondary ports fall under the responsibility of the Port and Maritime Institutes.

Government options for this sector

The programme of investments in priority infrastructures for 2005/2009 includes the improvement of accessibilities and modernisation of the maritime-port system. For this purpose are designated €395m until 2009 to transform the sector in a development engine, attractive to Iberian traffic and to great oceanic traffic. Another objective is to improve the interoperability inside the maritime-port system and promote the integration of ports in the inter-modal networks and in the logistic chains.

The government options for the maritime and logistic sector for the period of 2005/2009 are the following:
  • Optimise the existing infrastructures and promote the competitiveness of the national ports in a logic of globalisation and capture of new opportunity markets;
  • Improve the road and rail accessibilities to the main maritime installations;
  • Regulate the concession system and modernise the legal mainframe;
  • Proceed with the institutional and business restructuring of the maritime sector;
  • Simplify the commercial and recreational boats certification processes;
  • Implement a national system of logistic regulation, including a platform network (especially in Lisbon and Porto);
  • Restructure the nautical training, promoting a quality formation;
  • Increase the recreational ports offer;
  • Promote the construction and operation of the maritime coast traffic control system, increasing the navigation security and the maritime security itself, bearing in mind the location in Lisbon of the European Association of Maritime Security.

The Portuguese government projects for this sector are the following:
  • Improvement of infrastructures and accessibilities with several projects, namely Environmental and Functional Recovery of Eurominas Terminal in Setúbal, construction of railway accesses and intra-port connections to the Aveiro port, installation of the Agência Europeia de Segurança Marítima in Lisbon, the enlargement of the containers terminal in Alcântara, construction of the new maritime platform for passengers in Jardim do Tabaco, the navigability in Rio Guadiana and improvement of accessibilities and security in Douro and Arade rivers;
  • Implement the Systems of Maritime Traffic Control (VTS);
  • The government will elaborate a National Plan for Logistic Regulation to improve the conditions of the principal national ports and initiate the necessary interventions for the construction of a multimodal and logistic platform in the North Region;
  • Remodel the fluvial transport of ferry-boats and renovate vessels of this type.

In summary the main objectives for the maritime transport and ports sectors are the following:
  • Integration of the Portuguese ports into the Trans-European Transport Network;
  • Reinforcement of the port's economic competitiveness and all the logistic chain involved;
  • Promotion of the maritime highways, especially the Atlantic one, which will allow the promotion of the new modal alternatives for transports, encouraging the trade with the exterior.

Projects for the future and perspectives for the sector

European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA)

From 2006 European Maritime Safety Agency will be located in Lisbon. The Portuguese government engaged all its efforts in the objective of locating this important organisation in Portugal.

The European Maritime Safety Agency, created in the aftermath of the Erika disaster, will contribute to the enhancement of the overall maritime safety system in the Community. Its goals are, through its tasks, to reduce the risk of maritime accidents, marine pollution from ships and the loss of human lives at sea.

In general terms, the Agency will provide technical and scientific advice to the Commission in the field of maritime safety and prevention of pollution by ships in the continuous process of updating and developing new legislation, monitoring its implementation and evaluating the effectiveness of the measures in place. Agency officials will closely cooperate with Member States' maritime services.

Provisionally the EMSA is going to be located in Parque das Nações until the definite premises are concluded in Cais do Sodré.

The Agency will work very closely with Member States. It will respond to their specific requests in relation to the practical implementation of Community legislation, such as the recently adopted directive on traffic monitoring, and may organise appropriate training activities. The Agency will facilitate co-operation between the Member States and disseminate best practices in the Community. The Agency will also play a positive role in the process of European Union enlargement, by assisting the accession countries in the implementation of Community legislation on maritime safety and the prevention of pollution by ships.

The Agency will contribute to the process of evaluating the effectiveness of Community legislation by providing the Commission and the Member states with objective, reliable and comparable information and data on maritime safety and on ship pollution. Following major shipping disasters in European waters, such as the sinking of the ferry Estonia and the tankers Erika and Prestige, very substantial packages of EU legislation have been adopted to improve maritime safety and to reduce pollution from ships.

PORTMOS project (Development of Maritime Highways in Europe)

The Portmos project was chosen by the European Union to develop the "maritime highways" and it is to be lead by Portugal. The PORTMOS project constitutes a fundamental goal of the Government Maritime Strategy and might be the engine of a new development cycle in the sector being an opportunity for Portugal to be part of the first line of development in the sea motorways.

The European Transport system presents chronic congestion and the existence of strangulation points in the principal road axles. The globalisation of the production and the economic growth are generating a demand of the transport services, whose increase overcomes the economic growth itself: until 2010 the transport of goods is expected to register an increase of 38%.

The sea highways concept is based in maritime corridors developed to be an alternative in terms of prices and services to the road transports. This new concept will lighten the European infrastructures from the road transport pressure, allowing the improvement of the accessibility levels to the most peripheral European regions.

Briefly, these are the factors that make this concept relevant and determinant for Portugal:

  • The maritime highways can be a determinant element to diminish the peripheral relative economic situation of Portugal;
  • The geo-strategic position of Portugal should be utilised to develop a new Euro-Atlantic centrality;
  • The maritime highways can contribute for the reorganisation of the port-maritime sector;
  • The maritime highways might be in the future a determinant element to sustain the port and logistic system, developing the economy and attracting foreign direct investment.

The project aims to identify the technical and organisational requirements of the national port and logistic system, envisaging the integration of the national ports in the Sea Highways European Network, integrated in the Trans European Transport Network.

Those requirements involve the following:
  • Infrastructures;
  • Inter modality;
  • Taxes applicable;
  • Customs activities

Some actions need to be implemented in order to facilitate the conduction of this project and the implementation of a Single Port Platform:
  • Simplification of administrative procedures in the port-maritime sector;
  • Alterations in the management processes;
  • Preparation of the information systems and all the infrastructures

This project is at the end of the first phase and in total the global investment will be €2,5m until 2007, half of this amount being supported by European Union funds. The European Commission defined as priority projects actions in five maritime corridors that are designated as "Maritime Highways": the Baltic Sea, Western Europe, and South East Europe. To implement the project will be necessary to manage the five largest Portuguese ports (Aveiro, Lisboa, Setúbal, Sines e Leixões), maintaining their own autonomy.

Capture of new markets

The Portuguese ports are giving priority to the capture of new markets. The strategy is defined between Sines, Setúbal, Lisboa, Aveiro and Leixões ports, Spain and the United States being the preferential targets. To proceed with these objectives is necessary to conclude the rail connections to Madrid as well as the Portuguese authorities needing to commit themselves in the formation in the new technologies.

The circulation of goods needs to be more fluid in order to guarantee the increase of the traffic volume. This situation is essential for the promotion of the Portuguese ports near the new markets. To obtain these results it is necessary to compete better with part of the Spain hinterland, where the main challenge is to obtain a more fluid interchange of goods with Andalusia and Extremadura. The next step is to rival Madrid.

The Portuguese port authorities also want to attract the USA market especially through the Sines port. At the moment most of the American traffic goes to the ports of Algeciras and Valencia in Spain. Portugal's objective is to switch the route to the Alentejo coast, where the port of Sines will play an important role. A strategic plan that is being already implemented predicts that the load movement will increase 50% in the next ten years. This objective will be achieved by the attraction of new clients for the liquid bulks terminal and the affirmation of this port in terms of containers transhipment.

PIPE (Procedimento de Informação Portuários Electrónicos)

The maritime ports of Sines, Lisboa and Leixões are going to create a unique electronic platform which will allow the processing of information. The unique virtual desk has the perspective of processing the information and being a distribution platform of messages from the partners to the customs authorities. In conjunction these three ports represent 84% of the total maritime load and 98% of the containers moved – 56% of the Portuguese external trade.

The PCOM – Plataforma Comum Portuária - is a project conducted by the administration of these three ports, developed in conjunction with the diverse public organisations of the sector (mainly the DGAEIC – Direcção-Geral das Alfândegas e dos Impostos Especiais sobre o Consumo e a DGITA – Direcção-Geral de Informática e Apoio aos Serviços Tributários e Aduaneiros). The goal is the creation of a common platform for the electronic transference of documents and information to lighten the bureaucratic formalities associated to the dispatch of goods and ships.

The main characteristics of this project are the following:
  • Unique window system
    The informatics' system will be centralised in the port authorities and will work as the hub of all the information, receiving and sending data to the different receivers. All the port's entities with intervention in the dispatch of goods and ships will be connected (port authority, navigation agents, captainship, dispatchers, etc). Therefore it will be possible to create a sort of info-structure in the sector.

    The system will allow the transference of more than 90 different documents, to simplify procedures through the existence of manoeuvre bookings, elaboration of statistical data or evaluation of the level of services rendered. The system incorporates functionalities which allow the accomplishment of defined requirements by the European Commission programme Safe-Sea-Net, whose objective is to establish a European platform for the exchange of information to guarantee an efficient security of goods and ships.

  • Normalisation of procedures
    PIPE - Procedimento e Informação Portuária Electrónica – is another technological project necessary for the modernisation of the port sector. Associação de Portos de Portugal (APP) is responsible for these projects with the objective of simplifying and harmonising all the port's management procedures. The main goal is to create electronic forms, procedures manuals and service levels for various public and private entities.

Security measures

The European Union acted immediately following the Erika and Prestige accidents to set up a "defensive" mechanism to protect Europe against the risks of accidents and pollution. With the third maritime safety package, the Commission is today proposing a more proactive policy aimed at restoring conditions for healthy and sustainable competition for those operators who comply with international rules.

The quality of maritime services offered by operators is the key to competitiveness in the sector, and introducing stricter requirements for unscrupulous operators who distort competition, and maintaining high-performing maritime administrations and classification societies will also ensure the high quality of maritime transport.

The seven proposals contained in the package are therefore intended to supplement the European rules concerning maritime safety and improve the efficiency of the existing measures. They take account of the experience acquired in implementing the Community legislation on maritime safety (the Erika-I and II packages and the measures adopted following the Prestige accident), and the concerns expressed on several occasions by the European Parliament, the European Council and the ministers of transport.

  1. Flag State
    The objective of this new proposal is to ensure that Member States effectively monitor compliance with international standards by ships flying their flags and having for this purpose a maritime administration operating in accordance with high-quality criteria, i.e. the ISO 9001/2000 standard.

  2. Inspection and Survey Organisations
    The proposal intends to improve the quality of the work of these classification societies, bodies authorised by the Member States to carry out on their account inspection, checking and certification tasks relating to ships flying their flag. This approach is in line with logic of independence, competence and responsibility.

  3. Port State Control
    Controls in ports were stepped up following the Erika accident: the number of ships covered by the mandatory detailed inspections rose from 700 to nearly 4000. It is now a question of taking a further step towards improving the effectiveness and quality of checks on ships in European ports. The regime in force will thus be supplemented by new types of controls, e.g. onboard insurance certificates and safety questions.

  4. Traffic Monitoring
    Establishing a clear and precise legal framework for places of refuge is the main objective of the proposal to amend the Directive on the Community maritime traffic information and monitoring system. This legal framework provides that the Member States designate independent authorities responsible for designating the most appropriate place of refuge. These authorities will have the information they need to take their decisions, including a precise inventory of potential places of refuge along the coasts.

    The proposal also provides for the widespread use of the Safe Sea Net data exchange network. This system, developed by the Commission and operated by the European Maritime Safety Agency will enable the maritime authorities to have precise information about movements or ships and their cargos.

  5. Investigation of accidents
    The aim of this proposal is to improve maritime safety by providing for clear Community guidelines concerning technical investigations following occurrences at sea.

  6. Passenger rights
    The purpose of the proposal is to incorporate into Community law the provisions of the 2002 Athens Convention which are applicable only to international journeys and to extend them to cover domestic maritime traffic and inland waterways.

  7. Civil liability
    The Commission is suggesting that ship owners should be obliged to take out an insurance policy or another financial security or a guarantee from a bank or similar financial institution in order to cover their liability in the event of damage to third parties pursuant to the applicable rules. The financial guarantee should cover a sufficiently high amount to guarantee satisfactory compensation for victims in all possible cases. The compulsory financial guarantee will also cover the costs of repatriation of seafarers in the event of abandonment.

Short Sea Shipping

Short Sea Shipping is a successful mode of transport in Europe. For instance, in the 1990s it was the only mode that was able to keep pace with the growth of road transport. It has in fact started to outpace road transport. Short Sea Shipping is also an obvious choice to play a key role in reaching the objectives of the European Transport Policy. It can help curb the forecasted substantial increase in heavy goods vehicle traffic, rebalance the modal shares, bypass land bottlenecks, and it is safe and sustainable.

The European Commission has an active policy to promote Short Sea Shipping. In 1999 it presented a Communication with a comprehensive approach to increase the use of the mode. Furthermore, the recent European Commission White Paper on European Transport Policy for 2010 emphasised the role of Short Sea Shipping in maintaining an efficient transport system in Europe now and in the future.

Continuous political support from the Council, Member States and the European Parliament is vital for Short Sea Shipping to capture its true market share. Such support was last confirmed in the informal meeting of the European Union Transport Ministers that took place in May/June 2002 in Gijón (Spain) and that was fully devoted to ways to promote Short Sea Shipping. To make full use of Short Sea Shipping in Europe, it needs to be seamlessly integrated into logistics chains and offer door-to-door solutions to customers. Such logistics chains should be managed and commercialised by one-stop shops offering the customers a single contact point that takes responsibility for the whole inter modal chain. Further, the notion of competition between modes should be replaced by complementarities because co-operation between modes is vital in door-to-door chains involving more than one mode. This requires efforts from all parties but it is a clear win-win situation.

A number of obstacles still impede the further development of Short Sea Shipping. First, many commercial players still view it, wrongly, as an old-fashioned mode of transport. Second, full integration of Short Sea Shipping into door-to-door multimodality remains to be accomplished. Third, the complexity of documentary and administrative procedures in Short Sea Shipping is a fact that needs to be examined and tackled. Fourth, the efficiency of ports, port services and port-hinterland connections needs to be enhanced.

The Community is in the process of pursuing solutions to a number of these obstacles. The Commission is convinced that co-ordinated efforts at all levels (Member States, regional, local, industry and Commission) will substantially help accelerate the growth of Short Sea Shipping, alleviate obstacles and allow Short Sea Shipping to become a true success story of the 21st century.

Marco Polo programme

The Marco Polo programme, with an average annual budget of €18.75m, is aimed at shifting 12 billion tonne-kilometres a year of road freight to Short Sea Shipping, rail and inland waterways The Marco Polo programme aims to relieve congestion of road infrastructures and improve the environmental performance of the whole transport system by shifting part of road freight to short sea shipping, rail and inland waterway.

The Marco Polo programme helps finance three types of project:
  • Modal shift actions to shift road traffic to other modes of transport by providing start-up aid for new non-road freight transport services;
  • Setting up new non-road freight transport services is always risky. For example, regular maritime, rail and inland waterway services need a load factor of about 70 to 90% to stay viable. The costs of setting up a new service may be co-funded up to a maximum of 30%;
  • Catalyst actions involving innovative measures to overcome structural barriers in the market. This would involve, for example, setting up "maritime motorways" or high quality international rail freight services, operated on a one-stop shop basis. These actions should change the way in which non-road freight transport operations are carried out and use trans-European transport networks or pan-European corridors. The maximum amount of aid is 35%;

The aim is to step up cooperation and exchange know-how among operators in the freight logistics market in order to improve the sector's environmental performance. Community financial assistance is limited to 50%. The main objective of Marco Polo is to help shift an amount of cargo corresponding to the anticipated growth of international road haulage, to other modes.

Certain countries outside the EU may also participate in Marco Polo, however costs arising on their territory can only be supported in countries that have signed a Memoranda of Understanding with the EC. Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein have already concluded agreements and commercial enterprises from these states can now participate in and receive funding from the programme. Agreements with Bulgaria and Romania are currently being prepared.

The programme has two phases:
  • The period of 1 January 2003 to 31 December 2006
    This programme has a financial framework of is €75m. Unlike the PACT programme, Marco Polo sets quantified and verifiable objectives for modal shift. More specifically, the aim is to maintain the traffic share between the various transport modes for the year 2010 at its 1998 level.

    The programme will be geared towards promoting commercially oriented services in the freight transport market. Neither research and development nor infrastructure measures are its focus.

    The ultimate objective is to help shift international freight transport from road to short sea shipping, rail and inland waterway. This amounts to some 12 billion t-km per year.

  • The period 2007-2013 - Marco Polo II
    The current Marco Polo programme has only budget until 2006. This means, that the last call for proposals under the current legal framework will probably be published in autumn 2006. Budgetary provisions for its remaining theoretical lifetime 2007-2010 would have required new legislation.

    On 14th July 2004, the European Commission has instead proposed the follow-up programme of Marco Polo called "Marco Polo II". This programme should be valid for the next financial perspectives (2007-2013) of the European Community and upgrades the content as well as the budget of the current programme.

    The proposal is based on an independent ex ante evaluation submitted in June 2004. Its findings provide a sound basis for the calculation of the budget required according to the envisaged political objectives. Marco Polo II is an initiative of the Commission for a new regulatory framework which has to be agreed by the European Parliament as well as the European Council. On 15th July 2004 the Commission presented a proposal COM (2004) 478 to establish a second, significantly expanded "Marco Polo" programme from 2007 onwards. Marco Polo II includes new actions such as "maritime motorways" and traffic avoidance measures. The programme, which has a budget of €740m for 2007-2013, has been extended to countries bordering the EU. The Commission estimates that every €1 in grants to Marco Polo will generate at least €6 in social and environmental benefits.

    The final form of Marco Polo II will depend on the outcome of the negotiations with the European Parliament and the Council.

    The Commission proposal for a Parliament and Council Regulation setting up the Marco Polo programme was announced in the Commission White Paper "European transport policy for 2010: time to decide" of 12 September 2001.

    Based on the positive experiences with the PACT programme, the Commission proposed a programme to supports its fight against congestion in the road freight sector and its ambitious goals to improve the environmental performance of the transport system as a whole. The Marco Polo Programme was adopted on the 22 July 2003.

Main goals of the project
The main goal of Marco Polo is to reduce road congestion and improve the environmental performance of the whole transport system by shifting freight from road transport to short sea, rail and inland waterway transport. The programme thus aims to support one essential transport policy direction outlined in the Commission White Paper "European transport policy for 2010: time to decide."

Marco Polo supports commercial actions in the market for freight transport services. It is therefore different from the support given through research and development programmes and the Trans-European Network programme. Marco Polo fosters modal shift projects in all segments of the freight market, not only in combined transport. The programme can also fund actions involving third countries. However, taking into account the principle of subsidiary, it will focus in international, rather than national, projects.
To view the Final report on the Marco Polo ex-ante evaluation please click here

European Financial Support

In the light of the potential offered by the country's geographical position, maritime transport will have to play a fundamental role, whether in the development of national foreign trade (in particular with the countries of European Union) or in the wider context of world commerce which passes through Portuguese territory. It is accordingly necessary to make significant profits from the performance of the port system, which will allow the market share of maritime transport to be increased and thus reduce the excessive dependence on land corridors.

In the context of an overall cohesive strategy for the port sector, based on a clear identification of the function of each of the main Portuguese ports, investment priorities will have to be clearly identified, conditions for a more suitable use of short-journey shipping created and the consolidation of the productivity and competitiveness of the port system ensured. Community action will have to be confined to the completion of the network of road and rail links within and outside port areas, the establishment of platforms for interlinking with other essential modes of transport and the introduction of logistical systems and other systems which are essential for the efficient operation of port infrastructures. In this field, and in relation to investment and the use of infrastructures, public/private partnership must play an important part, fostering participation by the sector which allows the lever effect of Community resources to be maximised.

The role of the port of Sines in the Portuguese port system must be specified, with the objective of promoting transhipment and maximising the impact of this port in the development of the surrounding area. Strategic choices are also needed for Lisbon and Setúbal, given the fact that, in the medium term, the latter port will have to contribute decisively towards alleviating congestion in Lisbon.

The European Union will actively participate in the development of Portugal by co-financing the "Accessibility and Transport" Operational programme. The programme falls within the 3rd Portuguese Community Support Framework and focuses on enhancing the quality and efficiency of the transport system and to lessen the disparities between the coastal and inner regions. The Community will co-finance €1.388bn out of the programme's total cost of €3.369bn.

Breakdown of Finances by priority area (in millions of euros)

Priority area

Total cost

EU Contribution

Public aid
(EC + others)

Reinforcing inter-modal coordination




To increase the efficiency of Portugal's transport system efforts will be made to increase the interactivity and inter-usage between the various forms of transport. In such a way, measures will be implemented to develop all the means of transport, increase the transferability and reduce the dead time between each transfer. Particular attention will be paid to integrate further the maritime sector within the general transport system.

Structural Funds Features

Commission approves new operational programme on "accessibility and transport" under Portugal's CSF for 2000-06. The total volume of this OP is almost €3.369bn, involving public expenditure of about €3.071bn with a contribution from the European Regional Development Fund of €1.388bn.

The OPAT (Operational Programme for Accessibility and Transports) has four main aims: establishing a transport system which will help reinforce the competitiveness of Portuguese companies through better integration into the global market; developing a platform whose services will enable Portugal to play a role in long-distance transport; improving the quality of life in urban areas; and strengthening internal cohesion among the regions.

The OPAT consists of four strands or priorities:
  1. Integrating the transport corridors within Portugal into the trans-European transport network. Provision is made for funding the multi-modal corridor linking Portugal to Spain and the rest of Europe (a priority project under the trans-European network plan). This will involve completing the road and rail links that connect the national borders to the north and south via the Atlantic coast (Oporto/Lisbon/Faro), completing the main links between the urban centres on the coast and the eastern border (Guarda/Lisbon/Oporto corridor), and eliminating infrastructure bottlenecks at ports and airports. This priority also covers funding of road corridors linking the north and south of the country through the interior and connecting the Alentejo to the national border;

  2. Improving inter modal coordination through the improving access to ports; the improving access among medium-sized towns and between them and the main trunk routes; the developing a series of logistics platforms to enable efficient integration of different modes of transport;

  3. Strengthen national cohesion by developing regional rail links to replace cars in providing access to towns and cities and improving the road network in the interior especially;

  4. Improve the quality and efficiency of transport systems by introducing information and communication systems and systems to monitor environmental impact and upgrading safety features and enhancing the systems for preventing and dealing with accidents.

The OPAT involves four priority areas and nine measures (excluding technical assistance):
  • Area 1
    Integrating the country's infrastructure into the European Transport Network
    This area is associated essentially with Objective 1 and involved two measures:
    Measure 1.1: Multimodal linkages between Portugal, Spain and the rest of Europe
    Measure 1.2: Speeding up the construction of structural transversal and diagonal routes

  • Area 2
    Improving inter-modal coordination
    This area is associated essentially with Objectives 1 and 2 and involves three measures:
    Measure 2.1: Improving accessibility and intervention at ports
    Measure 2.2: Developing the complementary road network
    Measure 2.3: Developing a national logistics network

  • Area 3
    Reinforcing national cohesion
    This area is associated with Objectives 3 and 4 and involves two measures:
    Measure 3.1: Developing railway lines between cities
    Measure 3.2: Improving roads between cities, intersections and alternative routes

  • Area 4
    Promoting quality, efficiency and safety of the transport system
    This area is associated with Objectives 3 and 4 and involves two measures:
    Measure 4.1: Improving the quality and efficiency of the transport system
    Measure 4.2: Improving transport safety conditions

The main sources of funding are the State Budget and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The planned total investment is €3.336bn (including the cost of technical assistance). The planned ERDF contribution is €1.457bn.

This strategy for Portugal's transport sector will require coordinated financing from the ERDF and the Cohesion Fund. The OPAT therefore sets out a reference framework to help ensure coordination and maximise synergies between these financial instruments. The OPAT also hopes to maximise the leverage of Community funds by encouraging partnerships wherever possible between the public and private sectors.

For further details about this subject please contact:

Av. 5 de Outubro, Nº 153 - 5º,
1050-053 LISBOA
Tel: + 351 217 902 280
Fax: + 351 21 790 22 99
Manager: Ms. Maria do Carmo Vasconcelos

Useful contacts in the sector

Instituto Portuário e dos Transportes Marítimos, I.P.
Edf. Vasco da Gama - Rua General Gomes Araújo - 1399-005 Lisboa
Tel: + 351 21 391 45 00
Fax: + 351 21 391 46 00
Linha Azul: 808 20 10 46
Fax: + 351 213 914 600

Directorate-General for Regional Development
Address R. São Julião, 63 - 1149-030 LISBOA
Tel: + 351 218814000
Fax: + 351 218881111

National Cohesion Fund Coordination
Coordinator: Ms. Francisca Cordovil
Address R. São Julião, 63 - 1149-030 lisboa
Tel: + 351 21 881 40 00
Fax: + 351 21 888 11 11

Associação de Portos de Portugal
Cais da Rocha Conde de Óbidos
Edif. Crcb - 2º esquerdo
1399-045 Lisboa
Tel: +351 21 396 20 35 .
Fax: + 351 21 396 20 50

Instituto Portuário e dos Transportes Marítimos
(Delegação dos Portos do Norte)
Porto comercial de Viana do Castelo
4900-056 Darque
Tel: + 351 258 359500
Fax: + 351 258 359535

IPTM - Instituto Portuário e dos Transportes Marítimos
Delegação do Douro
Av. Sacadura Cabral – Godim
5050-071 Peso da Régua
Tel: + 351 254 320 020/1
Fax: + 351 254 324 043

APDL - Administração dos Portos do Douro e Leixões, SA
Avenida da Liberdade
4451 - 851 Leça da Palmeira
Tel: + 351 22 999 0700
Fax: + 351 22 995 5062

APA - Administração do Porto de Aveiro, S.A. (APA, S.A)
Edifício 9 - Forte da Barra
Apartado 91,
3834-908 Gafanha da Nazaré

Praça da República
2904-508 Setúbal Portugal
Tel.: +351 265 542000
Fax: +351 265 230992

APS - Administração do Porto de Sines - (Sines Port Authority)
Tel: 00-351-269-860 600
Fax: 00-351-269-860 690

Operational Programme of Accessibilities and Transports
Av. Columbano Bordado Pinheiro, 5 - 3º 1070-060 LISBOA
Tel: + 351 21 722 06 30
Fax + 351 21 722 06 39

The Directorate-General of Regional Development (DGDR)
Address: R. São Julião, 63, 1149-030 LISBOA
Tel: + 351 21 881 4000
Fax: + 351 21 888 11 11
General Director of Regional Development: Mr. Amável Francisco dos Santos

Useful Links

Useful Maps

Structuring Corridors of the national Territory

Diário de Notícias
IPTM - Instituto Portuário e dos Transportes Marítimos
Portuguese Governement Portal
Diário Económico
MOPTC – Ministério das Obras Públicas, Transportes e Comunicações
Instituto Portuário e dos Transportes Marítimos, I.P.
European Comission
Cohesion Fund
Associação de Portos de Portugal
The European Maritime Safety Agency
API- Invest in Portugal Agency
Semana Informática Magazine
Operational Programme of Accessibilities and Transports

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