The EU has over a thousand ports, which vary greatly in size, and sometimes in the type of ships visiting them. Together, they handled over 4 billion tonnes of goods in 2018, and 437 million people passed through them.
The main ports in terms of port call activity in the EU are Rotterdam, Antwerp, Algeciras, Piraeus and Messina, while in terms of gross weight of goods handled, Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg remained the top three ports in 2019. Eighteen ports in the EU account for more than a quarter (26.7%) of the port call activity in the EU.
Ports are a vital link in the worldwide shipping logistics chain and play a key role in assuring a sustainable maritime sector. They handle and dispose waste from ships and can facilitate the use of alternative fuels and energy supplies. Through port call optimisation, ship time spent at berth can be minimised, thus reducing the generation of associated air emissions.
Through its work, EMSA supports the European Commission and Member States on core port sustainability issues, including Port Reception Facilities, guidance on LNG bunkering and onshore power supply (OPS), and port call optimisation.