Crash course on the EU Seaports Regulation – Ghent, 13 March 2020


Content and purpose

The EU Seaports Regulation (‘Regulation (EU) 2017/352 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 February 2017 establishing a framework for the provision of port services and common rules on the financial transparency of ports’) has applied from 24 March 2019. It is the central European legislative framework for the operation of more than 300 seaports of the European Union and the European Economic Area.

The Regulation organises the procedures under which port service providers can gain access to the market, the transparency of public port financing, and the levying of port service charges and port infrastructure charges. It also contains provisions on matters such as social protection, user and stakeholder consultation, complaint handling and penalties.

It is already clear that the Member States, authorities and port users are encountering numerous implementation and interpretation difficulties and that, as expected, the Regulation is being used in judicial disputes.

Professor Eric Van Hooydonk followed the creation of this legal framework for European ports from the publication of the first proposals in the Green Paper of the European Commission in 1997. As a practising port lawyer, he has been experiencing the day-to-day reality of port policy and port operations for more than thirty years. He has just published an authoritative handbook on the regulation. He is therefore well placed to explain the objectives and mechanisms of the Regulation to practitioners from the port and shipping sectors and the legal profession.

On 13 March 2020 Professor Van Hooydonk teaches a not to be missed crash course on the EU Seaports Regulation at the Maritime Institute of Ghent University. The intensive course is taught in English and the number of places is limited. It is supported by the Belgian Maritime Law Association.

Participants are kindly invited to ask practical questions about the implementation of the Regulation in advance, which can be discussed during the Q&A sessions. Please feel free to send your questions to


8h30 – Morning coffee and registration

9h00 – The EU Seaports Regulation in brief – Its policy context (Background and objectives)Its legal status (A Regulation – Entry into force and transitional provisions – Legal basis – Relationship to the Directives on public procurement and concessions – Relationship to fundamental rights and other international law – Progress reporting)

9h50 – Q&A

10h00 – Scope of application (Principles – Port services – Maritime ports – Special provisions)

10h50 – Q&A

11h00 – Break

11h20 – Market access, Part 1 (Principles – Minimum requirements for port service providers)

12h10 – Q&A

12h20 – Sandwich lunch

13h20 – Market access, Part 2 (Limitations on the number of port service providers – Public service obligations – Restrictions in relation to internal operators – Workers’ rights)

14h10 – Q&A

14h20 – Financial transparency and autonomy (PrinciplesTransparency of accounting with respect to public financingPort service chargesPort infrastructure charges)

15h10 – Q&A

15h20 – Break

15h40 – Procedural guarantees (PrinciplesMandatory consultation and informationHandling of complaintsAppeal proceduresPenalties)

16h30 – Q&A

16h40 – End

Date and venue

Friday 13 March 2020, 9h00 – 16h40

Ghent University, Conference centre ‘Het Pand’, Onderbergen 1, 9000 Ghent, Belgium

Target audience

  • Port managers
  • Port terminal operators
  • Ship owners
  • Pilots
  • Tug owners
  • Mooringmen
  • Shipping agents
  • Freight forwarders
  • Port policy makers
  • Harbour masters
  • Insurers
  • Lawyers
  • Media

Terms of participation, registration and book

Participants are kindly invited to register via this link, at the latest on 6 March 2020.

Registrations become official only after receipt of the registration fee.

The normal registration fee is 150.00 EUR.

A reduced registration fee of 100.00 EUR is offered for the members of the PORTIUS International Port Law Network, the European Community Association of Ship Brokers and Agents (ECASBA), the European Maritime Pilots’ Association (EMPA), the European Boatmen Association (EBA), the Royal Belgian Shipowners’ Association (Koninklijke Belgische Redersvereniging – KBRV), the Royal Association of Cargo Handling Enterprises (Koninklijk Verbond der Beheerders van Goederenstromen – KVBG), the National Federation of Associations of Ship’s Agents and Brokers of Belgium (NAVES), FORWARD Belgium, the Professional Association of Antwerp Master Stevedores and Port Operators (Algemene Beroepsvereniging voor het Antwerpse Stouwerij- en Havenbedrijf – ABAS), the Flemish Pilots’ Association (Beroepsvereniging van Loodsen – BvL), the Royal Belgian Seamen’s College (Koninklijk Belgisch Zeemanscollege – KBZ / Collège Royal Maritime Belge – CRMB), the Belgian Maritime Law Association (BVZ – ABDM – BMLA), the Royal Belgian Association of Marine Insurers (Koninklijke Belgische Vereniging van Transportverzekeraars – BVT / Royale Association Belge  des Assureurs Maritimes – ABAM), doctoral students of Ghent University and teachers and students of Karel de Grote Hogeschool.

When registering, participants can order a copy of the book The EU Seaports Regulation (1307 pages) at a reduced price. This book will be used during the course so it is recommended that participants buy it or bring their own copy. For participants who want to receive a copy of the book, the registration fee is 200.00 EUR.

All payments should be made by transfer to bank account IBAN BE59-3900-9658-0026 – SWIFT/BIC code BBRU BE BB 900 of Ghent University. It is important that you mention the code 1000108233 followed by your name.

No VAT is due but all payments should be received net and all bank costs are for account of the participant. The bank is ING Belgium Business Centre Ghent, Kouter 173, 9000 Ghent, Belgium. If you need an invoice, please ask, provide her with all the details and pay only after you have received the invoice.

The registration fee covers attendance of the conference, lunch, coffee breaks, workshop documentation and, for those who have ordered it, the book.

Registrations may be cancelled until 6 March 2020. A cancellation fee of 50,00 EUR will be charged. No refunds are made for cancellations received after this date and the full registration fee remains due.

Professional training schemes for lawyers

Flemish lawyers will gain 6 points under the continuing professional development scheme for Flemish lawyers, operated by the Order of Flemish Bars (Orde van Vlaamse Balies – OVB). The organizers have also applied for the recognition of the event as part of the professional development scheme for in-house company lawyers operated by the Institute of Company Lawyers (Instituut voor Bedrijfsjuristen). On that basis, the participants will receive a certificate of attendance.

More information

For more information on the course, please contact Eric Van Hooydonk via

Click on the following links for more information about the University of Ghent, its Maritime Institute or visiting the city of Ghent.

Ghent is the second largest city in Flanders and its university the second largest in the country. Ghent is a beautiful historical city and has an important international port, which is connected to the sea via the Scheldt.

Ghent is easily accessible by all means of transport. A frequent direct train takes you from Brussels airport to Ghent’s main train station (Gent-Sint-Pieters) in less than an hour.

The conference centre ‘Het Pand’ is an old Dominican monastery located in the heart of the city on the banks of the river Leie, near the medieval port with the guildhalls and warehouses as its remnants. Click here for more history.