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EU Blue Economy Observatory

Employment: The Port activities sector directly employed nearly 410 thousand persons in 2021. It is estimated that the total number of people employed in EU ports under different contracts, including seasonal or part-time, is approximately 1.5 million. This includes both direct and indirect employment in various port-related activities across the 22 coastal Member States. Cargo and warehousing activities represented nearly 60% of total employment in the sector in 2021. The remaining 40% of the workforce was employed in the Port and water projects sector. Within these two sub-sectors, between 2020 and 2021 employment increased particularly in Warehousing and storage activities (+18%) and Construction of water projects (+4%).

Gross value added: In 2021, the Port activities sector generated the largest GVA on record since 2009, amounting to approximately €29.5 billion, thanks to a sharp 9.2% increase from 2020. In 2021, the two sub-sectors (Port and water projects and Cargo and warehousing) continued to generate an almost equal share of the sector’s GVA at approximately €15 billion each, with the largest year-on-year increase registered in Warehousing and storage activities (+16%).


1 EEA 2022. Transport and environment report 2022: Digitalisation in the mobility system: challenges and opportunities European Environmental Agency. EEA Report No. 07/2022. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2022.

2 EEA. (2021). Number of ports and OPS facilities in the EU (updated to December 2020). Retrieved from

3 The Environmental Management Index is a composite indicator developed by the European Sea Port Organisation (ESPO) and used to monitor the environmental performance of European ports. Puig, M., Raptis, S., Wooldridge, C., & Darbra, R. M. (2020). Performance trends of environmental management in European ports. Marine pollution bulletin, 160, 111686.

4 Traditional LNG: This is natural gas that has been cooled to about -162 °C (-260 °F) until it liquefies. This process reduces its volume by approximately 600 times, making it easier to store and transport. LNG mainly consists of methane and is used as an energy source for heating, electricity generation, and as fuel for vehicles and ships. It is considered cleaner than other fossil fuels like coal or oil, but it is still a source of CO2 emissions when burned (source: 

Bio-LNG: Similar to traditional LNG in terms of usage and physical properties, but it is produced from biomass or organic waste materials. Inputs such as agricultural waste, municipal solid waste, or sewage sludge are broken down in the absence of oxygen (a process known as anaerobic digestion) to produce biogas, which is then purified and liquefied into Bio-LNG. This process makes Bio-LNG a renewable energy source and can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional LNG and other fossil fuels (source: European Biogas Association. (2020). BioLNG in Transport: Making Climate Neutrality a Reality. European Biogas Association, Belgium).

Renewable Synthetic LNG: Also known as e-LNG, it is produced by combining renewable hydrogen with CO2 captured from industrial sources or directly from the air (direct air capture). The hydrogen is produced through the electrolysis of water using electricity generated from renewable sources such as wind, solar, or hydro. The hydrogen is then combined with CO2 in a process called methanation to produce methane, which is liquefied to form LNG. This process results in a fuel that is carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative if the CO2 is captured directly from the air, making it part of the solutions to combat climate change (source: Comer, B., O'Malley, J., Osipova, L., & Pavlenko, N. (2022). Comparing the future demand for, supply of, and life-cycle emissions from bio, synthetic, and fossil LNG marine fuels in the European Union).

5 European Council.