In 1974, the European Commission set up a Port Working Group, consisting of port authority representatives from Europe’s major ports. Early 1993, the European Sea Ports Organisation was born out of this working group, as an independent lobby for seaport interests. Founding Chairman was the late Ferdinand Suykens, former director-general of the Port of Antwerp.
During its initial years of existence, the organisation established itself in Brussels, focusing on a variety of policy and technical issues. Significant initiatives were the publication of the first Environmental Code of Practice in 1994 and the establishment of EcoPorts a few years later.
The debate on the European Commission’s ports package, which was issued in 2001, marked a kind of ‘coming of age’ period for ESPO. It made members reflect and become more conscious about their role as port authorities and it strengthened the internal cohesion of the organisation.
In 2009 ESPO set up a joint office with EFIP, the European Federation of Inland Ports.