The ceremonial opening of the new inter-municipal Eurohafen Emsland took place on 24 October 2007 by Walter Hirche, at that time Lower Saxony's Minister for Economics, Labour and Transport. With this event, the goal of years of preparatory work and intensive efforts by all shareholders was achieved.
The towns of Haren (Ems) and Meppen - both located directly on the Ems - have had their own busy port facilities for decades.
The only port in the town of Haren (Ems) to date - designated as a shipyard port with a "protective and berthing port function" - is still used today for cargo handling by the companies located there. Port handling beyond this is not possible due to the very limited space capacities and the existing infrastructure. An acceptable solution has been sought for years.
The port facility in the town of Meppen, on the other hand, had already been leased for several decades by the district of Emsland from the Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration and subleased to an operating company. These contracts expired on 31 December 2006. Although this port was also run economically, an extension was not intended since there was an urgent need for action due to the unfavourable urban location of the port and also because of the partly deteriorating fabric of the buildings standing on it. Modernisation and redevelopment of the harbour and the sheet pile wall were no longer an option. There was also a lack of space to attract port-related companies and to develop the port for the future and make it sustainable. Another problem was the proximity to the existing and newly built residential areas.
Keeping this in mind, the first plans for an inter-communal port with an adjacent industrial area in the area of the towns of Meppen and Haren (Ems), the Eurohafen Emsland, were made in 2002 together with the district of Emsland. The exact location of the Eurohafen Emsland was developed from the legally effective land use plan of the town of Haren (Ems), following the guidelines of the regional spatial planning programme of the district of Emsland 2000. Today, Eurohafen Emsland borders directly on the jointly managed industrial and commercial areas of the towns of Haren (Ems) and Meppen. A total of 450 ha of commercial and industrial land potential is available there.
For the conception, planning and construction of the Eurohafen Emsland, the "Euro-Hafen Emsland-Mitte Entwicklungs- und Bau GmbH" was founded in March 2003. The bulky name of the GmbH was changed to "Eurohafen Emsland GmbH" in 2010. The shareholders of this GmbH are the district of Emsland and the cities of Haren (Ems) and Meppen in equal shares.
The corporate purpose of the GmbH includes:
- the conceptual design and planning of the harbour,
- securing the financing of the project,
- the necessary acquisition of land,
- the provision of retention and compensation areas, and
- the development and marketing of the land.