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Hamburg – Westhagemann wants more control over port authority

The Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg’s new senator for the Economy, Shipping and Port Affairs wants to transfer some decision-making powers from the port authority to the government

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Michael Westhagemann is making his mark less than two months after he took over the leading business role in Hamburg.


He is preparing a new law which could result in a number of activities being transferred from the port authority (HPA) to the city state’s government. This includes responsibility for the North Sea island of Neuwerk, which is Hamburg territory. Flood protection outside the port area and operation of the six icebreakers would be taken over by the Hamburg Ministry of the Environment. Similarly, a number of roads would be taken over by the Roads Department.


However, the main issue is that responsibility for strategic planning of the port would be ’’shared" by the ministry and HPA, and HPA’s CEO Jens Meier is understood to be contesting this. The paper prepared by the ministry states: “Strategic competence from the ministerial side is needed to execute political targets. National and international partners have increasingly to be involved in the process of developing port strategy.” HPA would have to transfer several of its planning staff to the ministry.


All of the reform plans have to pass through Hamburg’s Parliament, the Bürgerschaft, but the message is clear - HPA has to be put on a short leash.

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