Call for maritime strategy for Europe

The European industry association SEA Europe and the trade union association industriAll Europe, social partners in the shipbuilding and ship repair sector, are calling for a solid EU strategy for the maritime industry in the run-up to the European elections.

The next European Commission should develop this strategy. This call, which follows on from the Antwerp Declaration for a European Industrial Deal, underlines the urgent need to strengthen strategic European industrial sectors in the midst of geopolitical dynamics, they say.

The proposed European strategy for the maritime industry should enable European shipyards and ship suppliers and their employees to maintain Europe’s position as a global technology leader while winning back strategic markets and opening up new ones. To this end, the EU must not only maintain its industrial production capacities, but also expand them, they demand.

The strategy for the maritime industry proposed by the associations is based on four pillars: strengthening the continent’s industrial sovereignty and competitiveness, creating a supportive regulatory framework, developing technological leadership and attracting a skilled workforce.

Policy recommendations include introducing “Made in Europe” requirements in strategic public procurement markets, introducing financial incentives to reduce the price gap between European and Asian shipyards and setting conditions in EU financial instruments to discourage investment outside Europe.

To attract skilled workers, the social partners propose, among other things, to better promote the maritime technology industry as an attractive sector, to develop a just transition policy framework to anticipate and manage changes in the maritime industry, focusing on access to quality training for all workers, or to support companies’ efforts to upskill and reskill workers.

In addition to calling for a maritime industrial strategy, the social partners also re-emphasise the importance of the Skills Pact for shipbuilding and reaffirm the need to set up a maritime expert group to discuss and develop the proposed policy recommendations.

“A real opportunity for Europe to take the lead”

Isabelle Barthès, Deputy Secretary General of industriAll Europe: “The maritime technology industry can have a green and prosperous future and there is a real opportunity for Europe to lead in this important area. European workers have a crucial role to play in this regard. We urge policy makers to support the sector and its workers. We call for a sectoral industrial strategy for the maritime sector with a dedicated investment plan linked to social conditions that ensure quality jobs and a strong social dialogue.”

Christophe Tytgat, Secretary General of SEA Europe: “Now is the time to act; the EU urgently needs to develop a sectoral strategy for the maritime technology industry against a backdrop of growing geopolitical tensions and uncertainties. Through this urgent initiative, EU policy makers will secure and strengthen Europe’s industrial capabilities, strategic autonomy, defence and technological leadership, while seizing the business opportunities offered by the green and digital transitions and emerging markets.” A resilient and well-supported industry will also promote job stability, strengthen the workforce and drive economic growth and prosperity.

In April, the European Shipbuilders’ Association had already called for a “180-degree turnaround in European shipbuilding policy”.

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