Survival of European maritime technology sector depends on firm stance from EU

EESC opinion calls for strong industrial and manufacturing policy based on reciprocity

"The European Commission needs to adopt a strong industrial and manufacturing policy based on reciprocity, otherwise our European maritime technology industry won't survive competition from Asian shipyards," warned Marian Krzaklewski, rapporteur for the EESC opinion on the LeaderSHIP strategy, adopted at its plenary session on 19 April. 

The EESC urges the Commission to step up the LeaderSHIP 2020 strategy's roll-out and put forward key recommendations for the sector's new LeaderSHIP 2030 strategy.

"Europe needs a specific approach for the shipbuilding and marine equipment manufacturing industry. Like China, the US, Japan and South Korea, European decision-makers must treat this as a strategic sector in Europe's economy", underlined co-rapporteur Patrizio Pesci.

Such an approach must include:

  • a comprehensive OECD agreement to set out rules on subsidies, and potentially also on pricing discipline;
  • reciprocity between Europe and third countries as a guiding principle in both bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations;
  • a specific financial instrument that would enhance investment in this capital risk intensive sector, etc.

The European maritime technology (MT) sector is a key industrial sector for Europe, but is confronted with many difficulties, not least because of the protectionist policies of East Asian competitors.

Around 300 European shipyards employ 200 000 people and have an annual turnover of approximately EUR 31 billion. Some 22 000 large companies and SMEs produce and supply marine equipment, generating an annual turnover of approximately EUR 60 billion. They employ over 350 000 people directly, and have a global market share of about 50%. (sma)