Transforming French ports

Published on: 22 January 2020
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Team Maritime

MGI – On 18 April 2018, you announced the creation of the Parliamentary Team Maritime. Can you explain what it does and what its goals are?

Sophie Panonacle – The Team Maritime is a ‘crew’ of parliamentary representatives dedicated to the ocean economy. Our goal is to develop and defend legislative initiatives that support an ambitious national maritime policy. We listen to public and private blue economy operators to understand and address their needs. The Team Maritime organises Les Mercredis de la Team (Team Wednesdays) as part of this work. I’ve also been touring France’s coastal and maritime areas so that I can meet local stakeholders on the ground.


MGI – We hear a lot about smart ports, green ports, digital innovations and communication between French ports. What issues does your team work on?

Panonacle – The competiveness of France’s major and regional ports obviously needs to be improved in order to develop our shipping industry. The digital transition to becoming smart ports is critical for being competitive on the global market. The Team Maritime is particularly attentive to the legislative means that are needed to support innovation and the digital transition. This revolution needs to be at the heart of competitiveness in the ocean economy and the competiveness of countries.

Didier Le Gac – To continue attracting business, French ports need to make the digital transition while meeting the needs of all the players in the supply chain. We need to understand and measure these expectations to find out what legislators can do and to relay feedback to the government. That’s why we’re in regular contact with stakeholders like Armateurs de France and Cluster Maritime Français.


MGI – MGI contributes to the development of port ecosystems. What can we do to support your project?

Sophie Panonacle – The Team Maritime advocates for the standardisation of digital systems across France’s major and regional ports. When the information report on the application of legislation for the blue economy was published, I called for inter-port consistency between major and regional ports. We need to develop coordinated port strategies between ports in the same geographical area and fully involve regions in the process.

Didier Le Gac – The development of digital technologies and Big Data in port and logistics management, together with cybersecurity in shipping, are important issues and we need to keep legislators informed.


MGI – What kinds of solutions do you think ports need to adopt to become more competitive?

Panonacle – We need to facilitate operations to clear goods through customs with the simple click of a button. Paperless and simplified processes should make our ports more competitive.

Le Gac – The ability of the French port system to compete on the international stage is essential and was underscored by the Prime Minister at the last meeting of the interministerial committee on the sea (CIMer) on 9 December. Cooperation, digital solutions and digital logistics platforms are some of the solutions that need to be implemented.


MGI – What are the next crucial steps?

Panonacle – The Team Maritime is particularly focused on the need to monitor the contents of containers and geolocate them when they are lost at sea. Knowing what dangerous goods are being transported is essential for preventing environmental accidents in ports and at sea.

In addition, fighting climate change by reducing vessel speed and managing port calls requires efficient information systems.

We also share the belief that high quality freight transport service lies in optimising transit and the supply chain.

Finally, I know that there are high expectations for the development of an information system that helps identify the recruitment needs of private shipping stakeholders. Let’s not forget that we have high hopes for job creation in the maritime sectors.

Le Gac – We need to continue to support maritime employment in all its forms. Ports therefore have a role to play as local stakeholders and economic development tools. We also need to develop the attractiveness of fishing jobs and the entire fishing sector, and we’re working on that. Once again, innovation can reduce the environmental impact of maritime transport while ships are at sea or in ports, and help develop renewable marine energies. Maritime safety is also an area we are working on. The Team is concerned about improving protection for sailors, and preventing accidents at sea and pollution.

Interview conducted by Catherine Mégélas, Marketing and Communication Manager at MGI.


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