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“Freight villages: drafting a proposal for a new law” / INTERVIEW

Rome - The activity of Italy’s Federlogistica-Conftrasporto association has gained momentum following Luigi Merlo becoming its president; formerly Mr. Merlo was Transport Councilor for the Liguria Region, president at the Port Authority of Genoa, and manager of shipping company MSC.

Rome - The activity of Italy’s Federlogistica-Conftrasporto association has gained momentum following Luigi Merlo becoming its president; formerly Mr. Merlo was Transport Councilor for the Liguria Region, president at the Port Authority of Genoa, and manager of shipping company MSC. A resume he has drawn on to revive the association he’s been leading since July 2018.

“Taking stock of these past months,” explained Merlo, “it’s been positive, thanks to the welcome I received from the association, and its business model, which is open to foreign operators active in Italy too. We’re strengthening our network, and right now we’ve been focusing on dry ports and their issues. The sector is waiting for a new law to be passed, but the text of the bill has not passed through Parliament yet. We’re working on a draft proposal of our own, one which will reflect our diverse sector.”

What other initiatives are in the pipeline?

“We’ve approached the Transport Regulation Authority (ART). We believe its role is central, also regarding the issue of concessions. There’s the topic of how much to grant the Port Authorities, and, on this, Federlogistica was one amongst few who responded during the consultative process with regard to a reduction of port dues. We do, however, recognize the importance of the ART in ensuring transparency for the sector. In conjunction with Confcommercio, Conftrasporto and Confmare they’re also working for the upcoming meeting on ports, convened by the government for June 11 and 12. Among the topics on the agenda there is jobs, and new changes brought about by the spread of e-commerce (US giant Amazon is also among the members of Federlogistica, ed.), and by the automation of logistics.”

Have you had a good response in terms of new members ?

“The firefighters at the port, who are engaged in contract renewal talks, have joined the association. We’re expecting negotiations to conclude by the summer. We’re in constant communication with Conftrasporto on that score. Meanwhile, new members are being added continuously.”

What is Federlogistica’s business model?

“It’s a modern associative model that works for supply chains operating on the principle of integrated logistics. We’ve set up committees on ports, on e-commerce, on land logistics.”

Do you have other projects with freight villages?

“We’re carrying out a joint initiative with freight villages to work together with the fruit and vegetable wholesalers association, within Confcommercio. The goal is to reduce transport costs for suppliers while boosting the workload for logistics companies.”

What are Italy’s priorities in terms of logistics?

“We too consider the central issue to be one of infrastructure, taking into account the review of EU funding for the Ten-T transport networks. The major projects already planned need to be completed, and we need to look closely at what the next European Commission intends to do. Another issue to focus on, in view of the upcoming elections across the continent, is that of the EU’s Motorways of the Sea project. We’re hoping that the new Commission will take up the Italian proposal for special funding of EU projects that incentivize sea transport, known as the marebonus.”

You’ve recently presented a study on climate. Why is this a topic that catches your attention?

“The effects of climate change on coastal infrastructure, such as ports and railways, is worrying. Our study has found that over the next 90 years sea levels will rise by one meter, with consequences for docks, even those that are currently being built. Problems may arise unless coastal protective projects are carried out. Unfortunately, it’s predicted that phenomena such as the wild storm surges that hit Liguria last October will become increasingly intense, and more frequent over time. The EU must think hard regarding the resources being allocated for infrastructure.”

What do you propose?

“It makes little sense just fixing damages, it’s better to carry out significant work, such as breakwater dams. Some countries, like the Netherlands, are ahead of Italy. The study we carried out in conjunction with ENEA highlights the problem areas for Italy.”

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