ECSA: EU Shipping Policy Needs Global Focus

To achieve further growth, the EU shipping policy needs to be globally oriented and aimed at improving the region’s competitiveness as a location for international shipping, a study by Monitor Deloitte says. 

The study was commissioned by the European Community Shipowners’ Association (ECSA) as an input for the ongoing review of the EU shipping policy, which started in 2015 with a mid-term review of the 2009-2018 Maritime Transport Strategy.

The results of the study were presented at a press conference held in the context of European Shipping Week on February 28, 2017.

The Monitor Deloitte study shows that the EU has an overall competitive regime in place for fiscal and social measures as well as quality registers and a strong skills base. This combination supports the current status of the EU as “an attractive location” for shipping activities.

“It is encouraging to see that the EU is in a good position and does not need a dramatic policy change. But global competition is fierce and we cannot take our position for granted,” Niels Smedegaard, ECSA President, commented.

“The study shows there are a number of policy gaps that should be addressed, firstly to maintain and then to enhance even further the competitive position of the EU. We have a unique momentum to do so now with the EU maritime year. We, therefore, offer this study as a basis for discussion on the EU shipping strategy for the next decade,” Smedegaard added.

The study confirms that the maritime state aid guidelines form an essential part of the EU policy framework.

“Legal certainty in the continuity of the guidelines is paramount. The guidelines are inherently flexible in nature and should therefore in their current format already allow for new growth opportunities of the maritime cluster and more competitiveness,” ECSA President said.

A globally-oriented EU shipping policy also involves the trade dimension. The study recognizes that the EU plays a positive role in supporting bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements as well as in promoting individual market access cases.

“We need a more structured EU external shipping policy to capitalise on this positive role, similar to the one existing for aviation. With protectionism on the rise worldwide, Europe should remain a champion of free trade,” Smedegaard concluded.

In an effort to underline this message, ECSA also published a series of recommendations for an EU external shipping policy on February 28.

The study compares the overall EU policy framework for shipping with policies of Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, Shanghai and Vancouver. The benchmark exercise is based on eight criteria: taxation and fiscal incentives, availability of professional services, regulatory, economic and political factors, skills, flag attractiveness, ease of doing business, legal framework for vessel exploitation and availability of finance.