VALENCIA – The northern expansion of the port of Valencia, an investment of more than €1.5 billion, is at an end. The “mega” project has been shelved by the Spanish government.
The project would have transformed Valencia into a major player in international maritime trade. The new terminal would have been double the capacity of Spain’s second-largest port after Algeciras. Carlos Mazón, the president of the Generalitat Valenciana, and the mayor of Valencia, María José Catalá, are sounding the alarm. According to them, the economic growth of the Valencia region is being restricted. “The delay is blocking private investments that are eager to come,” says Mazón.
Political disagreement: who is blocking whom?
The project has broad support from both the Popular Party and the PSOE. Therefore, it makes the impasse all the more incomprehensible. Ximo Puig, the leader of the PSOE in Valencia, emphasises that the expansion “must meet strict environmental requirements according to the European Green Pact.”
The Valencia project, originally conceived in 2006, appeared to gain momentum again in 2018 with the approval of the tender for a new container terminal. But just when everything seemed to be ready, new obstacles arose. Political parties of the left, especially Compromís, doubt the validity of the previously granted environmental permit and demand a new study.
European influence and legal stumbling blocks
The controversy even reached the European Parliament, where both the PP and PSOE supported the project. However, due to legal action by the citizens’ platform Comissió Ciutat-Port, the implementation has been suspended again, this time by the High Court of Madrid.
Economics versus environmental law
It will be a difficult situation for the Spanish government. Will they give the green light to a project that is crucial for the Valencian and Spanish economy, but may conflict with environmental legislation and local politics? Or will the project remain a paper tiger, caged by political and legal obstacles? The coming months will show which course will be taken.