Maritime Economics & Logistics

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 331–351 | Cite as

Short sea shipping in today’s Europe: A critical review of maritime transport policy

Policy Perspectives


During the last two decades, the European Union has led the promotion of Short Sea Shipping (SSS) corridors as an alternative to road transport. The need of establishing a level playing field between transport modes as well as of reducing congestion and other environmental damages from road transport have been pointed out as the main motivations of this promotion. Although other regions are currently evolving action policies to establish and encourage SSS corridors, these are recent and based on the European experience (the first US initiative was developed in 2002). Thus, Europe has come a long way in encouraging SSS. Therefore, it provides a proper scenario to analyze the success and failures of its policies after more than 20 years, in order to provide lessons to other regions and for the future. Here a review of the role of SSS in the European Maritime Transport Policy is presented. The main reasons of its promotion are explained, together with the two different sets of policies: those to fund specific infrastructure and those to fund SSS operations. A critical discussion on those policies concludes the article. The main purpose of this study is to provide to researchers and policymakers with an analytical review of the SSS transport policy with the aim of forming the basis of future research on SSS policy and competitiveness.


short sea shipping European maritime transport policy environment competition 



Thanks are due to Javier Campos and Lourdes Trujillo for their valuable comments and remarks, as well as to the MEL editors for their input in improving earlier versions of the paper. The usual disclaimer applies.


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Economics of Infrastructure and Transport Research (EIT), University of Las Palmas de Gran CanariaLas PalmasSpain

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