EU ports recover from pandemic

Freight levels at ports across the European Union are slowly returning to pre-pandemic levels.

The total weight of goods handled in EU ports declined by 7% in 2020 compared with 2019 but has recovered by 4% to 3.5 billion tonnes in 2021.

The Netherlands remained the largest maritime freight transport member state in 2021. Dutch ports handled 590 million tonnes of goods, an increase of 32 million tonnes compared with the previous year. This presents 17% of the total volume of seaborne goods handled last year in the EU.

The Netherlands was followed by Italy and Spain, each with a share of 14%.

Rotterdam (435 million tonnes), Antwerpen (216 million tonnes) and Hamburg (111 million tonnes), all located on the North Sea coast, maintained their positions as EU’s top three ports in 2021, both in terms of the gross weight of goods handled and in terms of volume of containers handled in the ports.

Compared with 2020, the number of tonnes handled in 2021 decreased the most in the Greek port of Piraeus (-10%), Algeciras in Spain (-6%) and Klaipėda in Lithuania (-5%). In contrast, it increased the most in Zeebrugge (+27%) in Belgium and Constanţa (+26%) in Romania.

Passenger volumes are also slowly increasing. Following a 45% fall in the number of passengers embarking and disembarking in EU ports in 2020 (compared with 2019), numbers have increased by 16% in 2021 to 267.9 million.

This is still considerably below the levels observed before the pandemic when EU ports registered 418 million passengers.

Source: Port Strategy

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