Why the blockade in PPA creates a negative domino for investments in other ports

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By Anastasia Vamvaka

Serious concerns and questions in legal and economic circles of the market have been created by the decision of the CoC that cancels the work permits in Cosco investment projects in the port of Piraeus. And this not only for the cessation of work on critical projects for the development of Piraeus but because it creates a new legal framework for the approvals of Master Plans in ports at a time when three critical privatizations are in the final stages: Alexandroupoli, Kavala and Igoumenitsa and another has already been completed, that of Thessaloniki. Legal circles argue that the implementation of this decision can be generalized outside the ports and to other infrastructure that has already been privatized or is expected to be privatized.

According to the Deputy Minister of Interior (Macedonia-Thrace), Stavros Kalafatis, by the end of 2022 the change of ownership status in the port of Alexandroupolis is expected to be completed, while in the case of Igoumenitsa the binding offers are expected to be evaluated in the summer. At the same time, the investments in the port of Thessaloniki, amounting to 300 million euros, and especially those in the 6th pier of Thessaloniki, are “running”, while the final procedures include the evaluation procedures (of the files submitted by the interested investors) for the port of Kavala.

All this, of course, before the decision of the CoC, which clarifies that there can be no approval of a Master Plan without the completion of a Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), even if there are individual environmental impact studies (EIAs). The usual practice so far – precisely because it was not required by law – is for the administrations of the Organizations to carry out environmental impact studies on individual projects, but it is unclear if they have prepared SBMs that include in detail and in total the port projects and therefore without projects are considered illegal.

Port of Alexandroupolis

The strategic nature – especially at this juncture – of the investment in the Port of Alexandroupolis raises the most concerns for the completion of this critical privatization. The American Proxenos-Quintana has passed to the second phase together with the joint venture of the Kopelouzos group (Cameron) with the Goldair group and the French group Bollore, the joint venture of GEK TERNA with the American Black Summit Financial Group, Euroports and EFA Group and of the Thessaloniki Port Authority (OLTH).

Many questions have been raised about the fate of the privatization, as it is unknown whether there is a SPA that includes the port of Alexandroupolis and whether the Administrations of the Organizations have included the new legal conditions.

Alexandroupolis is of great geopolitical interest. The U.S. military is already using the port as part of the Greek-American Defense Cooperation (MDCA), and in recent years the US ambassador, who has made repeated visits there, has highlighted its “strategic role.” regional hub of energy, transport and trade, vital to European stability and security “. The other activities of “ALL SA” include ship mooring services, dry bulk cargo unloading and general cargo handling and storage, as well as coastal passenger transport. The port of Alexandroupolis also has extensive infrastructure to support additional container transport, bulk cargo and passengers, while at the beginning of the month it was announced that a second floating LNG terminal will be built.

Port of Piraeus

The decision of the Plenary Session of the CoC clarified the legal framework, stipulating that European legislation requires the Greek legislator to first have a Strategic Environmental Impact Study and then to approve the Master Plan. Many questions, however, arise if the mandatory and additional investments of the PPA are considered legal even after the submission of a new PPA as many of the projects have already been completed eg Petroleum Pier, the legal framework has changed and therefore all projects must be studied together in terms of the environmental footprint they will create for life in the largest port of the country. It is possible that a new Master Plan will be required to be submitted for approval to ESAL, whose CoC annulled four decisions between it and the start-up permit for the extension of the cruise pier.

At a time when the cranes in the work of expanding the southern pier have stopped, the Legal Department of the PPA is examining in detail the decision of the CoP and next week the Organization will be clearer in another difficulty that has arisen in the investment plan of Cosco . According to information, the new SMP that was in consultation since the end of January in the Attica Region received a negative vote from both the Municipalities and the Region, so the scenarios for rapid normalization of the situation are removed.

Source: Capital

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