Europe and EU Shipping: ‘A Two-Way Street’
On the eve of its Board of Directors meeting, which took place yesterday, ECSA organised a lunch in the European Parliament, followed by a high-level seminar to discuss the economic value of the EU shipping industry, as outlined in the Oxford Economics study commissioned by ECSA.
The lunch was hosted by Mr Philippe De Backer, Member of the European Parliament from the ALDE Group and gave the opportunity to ECSA Board members to meet with several MEPs and discuss the findings of the study that clearly indicate the vital importance of EU shipping as a source of revenue and jobs in the EU.
Mr De Backer said: “The study offers a good indication of the value of EU shipping for our economy. It provides an excellent overview, with specific numbers, giving us MEP’s extra arguments to take into account when drafting shipping-related legislation”.
The discussions continued at a panel debate that allowed participants to analyse in greater detail the findings of the study and deliver some key messages to Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas and other Commission officials who attended the seminar.
Commenting on the need for a global level playing field Philippe Louis Dreyfus, President of Louis Dreyfus Armateurs, said “Competition yes, but for everyone and everywhere” and added: “the EU should help EU industries to fight against third country protectionism”.
Niels Smedegaard, CEO of DFDS, referred to the adoption of the SECA sulphur norms as an “own goal” for regulators as the effects of the upcoming sulphur emissions limits will force companies to close financially struggling shipping routes and shift cargo back to the roads, which will be detrimental to the EU’s own CO2 emissions’ reduction targets. “We are willing to participate in the reduction of our emissions but we need good coordination between industry and legislators and a fast-track EU-wide support for retrofitting our ships”, concluded Mr Smedegaard.
David Dingle, CEO of Carnival UK, gave a vote of confidence to EU seafarers: “We strongly believe in the skills of UK and EU seafarers. […] They are highly prised assets and shipowners , as well as the EU economy rely on them” he said. He continued by pointing out that EU seafarers are sought after by shipowners, and that there is therefore no need to “shackle” shipowners with EU legislation that only leads to more bureaucracy and therefore ends up being counter-productive.
Commission Vice-President Kallas stated that it would be to the benefit of the EU and shipowners alike to find a global solution for the reduction of CO2 emissions, as was the case with the IMO Energy Efficiency Index (EEDI) and asked shipowners to do everything that is in their power to increase fuel efficiency. “We want EU shipping to prosper so that it can serve a flexible and dynamic European economy” he concluded.
Wrapping up the seminar Thomas Rehder, ECSA President, said “The results of the Oxford Economics study highlight what we in the industry have been preaching for years: EU shipping is important for Europe and the EU stands to profit considerably by fostering its shipping industry. We have built a relationship of trust and I hope that, through honest dialogue and efficient cooperation, it continues to be a reciprocal process . After all, the link between Europe and EU shipping is a two-way street ”.
ECSA, April 4, 2014