Shortsea shipping means the movement of cargo and passengers by sea between ports situated in geographical Europe or between those ports and ports situated in non-European countries having a coastline on the enclosed seas bordering Europe.
Shortsea shipping includes domestic and international maritime transport, including feeder services, along the coast, to and from the islands, rivers and lakes. The concept of shortsea shipping also extends to maritime transport between the Member States of the Union and Norway and Iceland and other States on the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.
The European Commission has an established policy to promote Shortsea Shipping. This policy intends to tackle the fast growth of heavy road transport, congestion, road accidents and pollution caused by heavy trucking. Furthermore, it enhances cohesion and links to peripheral areas and islands, such as Cyprus. The overall policy objective in terms of expected results is modal shift from road to shortsea in order to minimise unsustainable trends in transport.
There is no doubt that passenger transport is also an important part of Shortsea Shipping and helps increase cohesion. However, the main objective of promoting Shortsea Shipping is to achieve a modal shift from road to sea, and the potential of alleviating traffic congestion by shifting passengers from road to sea, seems marginal in comparison with freight.