LeaderSHIP 2020 needs to be strengthened

Europe's shipbuilding industry needs the EU's strategic support. LeaderSHIP 2020 is the right tool but must be beefed up and extended to 2030.  Europe must become the frontrunner in R&D on climate change, energy saving and vessel complexity, since the maritime industry is crucial to its economic and social future. Clustering would boost this heterogeneous industry and make it more competitive.  Streamlining education and making jobs attractive to young people, including through enhanced mobility, is essential.  The EU also needs to take a strong stance on the international market in order to fight unfair competition.

This was the bottom line of an event organised by the EESC in Brussels on 24 October, where experts debated the state of the industry.

EESC member Marian Krzaklewski (Workers – PL) outlined the challenges facing an area where Europe was struggling to maintain its critical mass.

CCMI delegate Patrizio Pesci stressed the potential for smart, inclusive and sustainable growth in this sector, which was still suffering from the economic and financial crisis and unfair competition from third countries.

Reinhard Lüken from SEA Europe warned that the lack of orders from previous years would only be felt in the years to come. LeaderSHIP 2020 was the right tool, but needed to be strengthened and translated into a LeaderSHIP 2030 programme encompassing the naval sector.

Elspeth Hathaway from IndustriAll stressed that, despite job losses ranging from 15% to 75%, the sector still accounted for 5.4 million jobs in Europe and 50% of marine supplies worldwide. The challenge would be retaining skills. Life-long learning was crucial in this high-tech sector and mobility needed to be encouraged.

Agnieszka Montoya-Iwanczuk from DG Growth presented a study showing that the European shipbuilding supply chain as a whole was bigger than China's or Japan's but far more heterogeneous, with a few big and many small companies. Clustering and dedicated European maritime research would be called for. (sma)