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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.

The reason for undertaking the initiative was the deteriorating situation on land roads associated with increasing congestion and the relatively high harmfulness of road transport for the natural environment. This led to fears of corking up the whole system of continental road links in the coming years. Thus, it was started to look at alternative modes of transport that would help relieve the roads, reduce harmful emissions to the atmosphere and stop further land acquisition for infrastructure expansion.

Moreover, shortsea shipping is a very important element of sustainable transport development creation. It is a vital link in the system of door to door multimodal connections. However the shipping lines do not significantly determine the planning of road transport, but are only an equivalent element in the entire transport process.

The set goals require undertaking a whole package of measures that increase the attractiveness of maritime transport, as the choice of transport that type is based on market conditions, and therefore in conditions of full competitiveness. The main tasks assigned for the coming years are:
- simplification of documentation and procedures in transport and trade,
- implementation of electronic information flow systems,
- improving safety at sea,
- implementation of modern technologies that increase the speed, reliability and economic efficiency of maritime transport,
- coordination of activities of various transport modes operators and forwarders in order to build an optimal transport network,
- creating a system for assessing the efficiency of seaports.