Seaports are fundamental to the economy of the European Union (EU), enabling the transit of some 74% of imports and exports of cargo and 37% of EU trade. They also play an important role in the Union’s territorial continuity, linking islands and peripheral areas with the mainland. They vary in size, location, organisation and type, making up a very heterogeneous sector. They also differ in performance and connectivity to intermodal transport routes.
Some 96% of all freight and 93% of passengers passing through EU ports transits through the EU’s 329 main seaports, identified by the European Commission in the guidelines on the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) as essential to the functioning of the internal market.