Sometimes legislation hinders development! That is the feeling at Port of Aalborg, which is Denmark’s largest inland port. The port has much in common with other inland ports in Europe, several of which are almost identical to Aalborg. Port of Aalborg is a member of the European Federation of Inland Ports (EFIP), which also considers Aalborg an inland port. Despite this, the port in Aalborg does not have official legal status as an inland port, because the Limfjord in the TEN-T Regulation is not classified as an “inland waterway”.

This is due to a lack of official and legislative work in Denmark, and consequently the Port of Aalborg does enjoy the same rights and opportunities as other European inland ports according to EU law. As a result, Port of Aalborg cannot, amongst other things, access EU port development funds and other funding opportunities e.g. green, high-tech or other leading development projects targeted towards inland ports in the EU. Substantial funds are being channelled out to the European inland ports, in which Denmark cannot share.

Consequently, Port of Aalborg and the actors around the Limfjord find it more difficult to attain co-financing for investments in green transport solutions, smarter technologies, sustainable operations, infrastructural development, etc. than inland ports in the rest of Europe.

This affects not only Port of Aalborg, but all of North Jutland. The port in Aalborg is a logistics nerve centre in the Jutland corridor, critical infrastructure and a hub for cargo via ships, rail and lorries between Scandinavia and Central Europe. At the same time, the port which is situated inland in North Jutland, is laying the groundwork for one of North Jutland's largest industrial areas, which is crucial for overall business development and the transition to green in the community. In other words, Port of Aalborg is a key player in realising the enormous growth potential in the Limfjord region and North Jutland. The lack of classification means that the port and other actors along the Limfjord cannot apply for funds in application rounds that cater to the inland waterways sector, even though the Limfjord is de facto and legally should be classified as an inland waterway.

Our Swedish neighbours have accommodated the needs of business and the sustainable society for efficient inland waterways by classifying e.g. Göta Älv river and the fjords into Gothenburg as inland waterways. South of the border in Hamburg, they have done the same by classifying the entire course of the Lower Elbe from the North Sea to the Port of Hamburg as a federal inland waterway. Even the large European ports cannot afford to forgo these development funds.

The Limfjord also fulfils the criteria for classification as an inland waterway by virtue of its status as a strait, its dredged channels, navigational conditions, the nature of its shipping traffic and watercourses reaching far inland into North and West Jutland. Moreover, the Limfjord connects the whole of Northern Jutland with inland waterways in the rest of Europe via, e.g. Gothenburg and Hamburg.

The questions we should be asking ourselves now are:

Why does Denmark waive development funds from structural programmes that support the business development of inland ports and waterways? Funds that we co-finance and urgently need, and which could, for example, stem some of the provincial issues experienced i.a. in North Jutland.

Why doesn’t Denmark afford our own inland ports the same opportunities as other inland ports in the EU?

Why shouldn’t business development around the Limfjord as an inland waterway be brought up to European standards?

Pernille Weiss, through the EPP Group, has just tabled an amendment to revise the Ten T regulation regarding the classification of the Limfjord as an inland waterway, and Port of Aalborg as a core inland port. Now, we must wait and hope that the Danish government will support the upcoming negotiations, so that North Jutland and Port of Aalborg can share in the same development funds to strengthen growth in the region as our sister European regions and ports.