This video shows container traffic growth in European ports between 1985 and 2021. The bars are proportional to the total container traffic handled in TEU.
The top 3 European container ports have remained unchanged since the start of containerization in European ports in the late 1960s: the Dutch port of Rotterdam, the Belgian port of Antwerp and the German port of Hamburg have always occupied the top spots in TEU terms in the European container port system. These three ports are all located in the so-called Hamburg-Le Havre range in northwest Europe. Hamburg for a long time ranked second in Europe, but since the crisis year 2009 Antwerp successfully challenged Hamburg’s position.
We also see a strong growth in the main container ports in the Mediterranean. Valencia, Piraeus, Algeciras and Barcelona have joined north European ports in the top 10. A large part of the growth observed in the mentioned Med ports is related to the sea-sea transhipment business: Piraeus and Algeciras are almost pure transhipment hubs in the Med, while Valencia combines transhipment flows with gateway cargo to the (mainly Spanish) hinterland. All three north-European ports mentioned above also combine transhipment flows with import/export cargo.