Seán Kelly, MEP for Ireland South, has backed calls for an EU Port Strategy, stressing the vital importance of ports in shaping the economic landscape, energy transition, and trade dynamics in Europe. Kelly supported a European Parliament report on the subject, which passed with 585 votes in favour to 21 against and 26 abstentions – despite three Irish Left MEPs voting against.
“Ports are the hugely important for economic development, job creation, and trade. It is crucial for Europe, and Ireland in particular, to ensure that our ports are not only competitive but strategically developed to meet the demands of the future,” MEP Sean Kelly stated.
The report highlights concerns about non-EU countries’ economic presence in European ports, with particular attention to China. Kelly echoes these concerns, “While we welcome international collaboration, we must be vigilant about potential risks such as economic dependence, espionage, and sabotage. Ireland, through ports like Shannon Foynes, Bantry, Cork and Rosslare and can take a lead in ensuring our maritime infrastructure remains secure and resilient.”
“Take Shannon Foynes port for example, it is hugely important for Ireland’s renewable energy future as we see offshore wind projects take off in the south west of the country,” asserts Sean. “The development of offshore wind in the Shannon Estuary will be fundamental to Ireland’s net-zero commitments and contributes significantly to Europe’s broader strategy to reduce dependence on fossil fuel imports. It needs to be one of the first names on the team sheet in the governments offshore wind industrial strategy.”
Sean sees this as an opportunity for a new industrial ecosystem based on green electricity and hydrogen production. “This isn’t just about energy; it’s about creating jobs, investing in infrastructure, and positioning Ireland as a key player in the renewable energy market.”
Addressing the proposed European Port Summit, Mr. Kelly said: “Cooperation between EU ports is essential to tackle the outlined challenges. Ireland must actively engage in this dialogue, ensuring that our ports are not just participants but leaders in shaping the future of European trade and energy”.
Kelly also voted in favour of another related parliamentary report today which warns against Chinese influence on critical infrastructure such as transport infrastructure and ports, telecommunications networks, rare metals and undersea cables. The report was adopted by a large majority (565 votes in favour, 26 against and 31 abstentions). Four Irish Left MEP voted against that report.