EU’s Green Deal Industrial Plan sets the stage for faster green transition of shipping

The European Union has rolled out A Green Deal Industrial Plan for the Net-Zero Age, which is being described as the EU version of the US Inflation Reduction Act.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission; Courtesy of the World Economic Forum

The plan aims to provide a more supportive environment for the scaling up of the EU’s manufacturing capacity for the net-zero technologies and products required to meet Europe’s climate targets.

The plan builds on previous initiatives and relies on the strengths of the EU Single Market, complementing ongoing efforts under the European Green Deal and REPowerEU. It is based on four pillars: a predictable and simplified regulatory environment, speeding up access to finance, enhancing skills, and open trade for resilient supply chains.

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to show the way with speed, ambition and a sense of purpose to secure the EU’s industrial lead in the fast-growing net-zero technology sector. Europe is determined to lead the clean tech revolution. For our companies and people, it means turning skills into quality jobs and innovation into mass production, thanks to a simpler and faster framework. Better access to finance will allow our key clean tech industries to scale up quickly,” Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said.

Danish Shipping said this could have a major impact on the green transformation of shipping, as the EU has laid the foundations for a faster farewell to fossil fuels.

“Start-up support is one of the keys to achieving a sufficiently high tempo in the green transition. We saw it with the wind turbines in Denmark, and it is the same with large-scale production of green fuels. So we are largely positive about the plans for support that the European Commission has now presented,” says Anne H. Steffensen, CEO of Danish Shipping.

According to the European Commission, there is a need for greater investment before 2030 in the production of net-zero technologies, given the ambitious EU goals and international competition.

The funding must be used to produce net-zero technologies such as solar and wind energy, batteries, heat pumps, hydrogen and the capture and storage of CO2. These funds must be made available through a more flexible approach to state aid and via existing EU schemes, where the EU’s innovation fund is central to shipping.

In order to speed up and simplify aid granting, the Commission will consult Member States on an amended Temporary State aid Crisis and Transition Framework and it will revise the General Block Exemption Regulation in light of the Green Deal, increasing notification thresholds for support for green investments.

There are also plans to introduce a ceiling on case-processing times in different approval procedures for major projects. The idea of a ‘one-stop-shop’ approach in the member states is specifically mentioned.

“The processing time for approvals and permits can be a stumbling block in the fight to get the green transition up to speed. It is a good signal from the EU that we must strive to put a ceiling on the processing time for approvals,” says Steffensen.

“I hope that the EU’s green initiative will become an instrument to ensure that Denmark, as one of the world’s leading shipping nations, can obtain sufficient green fuel for the growing fleet of green ships. Today, one of the most important challenges for the green transformation of shipping is that there is no certainty about the quantity of green fuels available.”

In a joint statement on the plan, Cruise Lines International Association and SEA Europe have called for shipbuilding and maritime equipment manufacturing, to be recognized as an integral part of the “Green Deal Industrial Plan”.

Achieving the Fit for 55 plan to reduce emissions from the waterborne sector will rely on significant innovation and investment in new vessels and clean technologies.

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“The shipbuilding industry is at the heart of clean-tech and industrial innovation in Europe and, as such, needs to be recognized and included in the Commission’s strategy. Today, more than 93% of the world’s ocean-going cruise ships are built in Europe. Cruise lines are making significant investments now in partnership with European shipyards and equipment manufacturers equipping ships with latest technologies including fuel cells, batteries, and new propulsion solutions, driving the innovation that will deliver net zero emission shipping,” Marie-Caroline Laurent, Director General, Europe, CLIA said.  

. Cruise ship building represents around 80% of the order book of shipyards in Europe. With over 78 cruise ships on order for the next five years, this represents €45 billion direct investment in Europe. 

“Europe’s maritime technology industry is a strategic key enabler of the EU’s political ambitions in terms of defence, European Green Deal, EU Digital Agenda, Blue Economy. Including this industry in the Green Deal Industrial Plan for clean tech and industrial innovation on the road to net zero willhave many benefits, not onlyforthe industry’s global competitiveness but also for Europe’s maritime resilience and strategic maritime autonomy,” Christophe Tytgat, Secretary General, SEA Europe said:.

CLIA and SEA Europe are therefore calling for the maritime sector to be included in the Temporary Crisis and Transition Framework (TCTF) and in EU Fundings.

They also called for the proper inclusion of the cruise maritime sector and maritime technology industry, in the Net-Zero Industry Act and the full consideration of the sector in the European and national schemes for renewable energy deployment mechanisms.