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Fit-for-55: what sustainability in maritime technology sector?

maritime technology

SEA Europe has recently issued its position papers on the “inclusion of shipping into EU ETS”, on “FuelEU Maritime” and on “Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism”, all part of the Fit-for-55 legislative package.

What is the vision? SEA Europe fully supports the goals of the “Fit-for-55” legislative package, i.e. a strategy for climate change and for zero-emission waterborne transport by latest 2050. The Association firmly believes that this legislative package will offer stimulating opportunities for Europe’s shipyards and maritime equipment industry, known as “maritime technology sector”.

However, at the same time SEA Europe believes that more efforts will be required to turn the EU’s ambitions on climate change into true economic opportunities as well, especially for Europe’s maritime technology sector. With Covid-19, Asia’s competitive distortions have only but aggravated, to the detriment of Europe’s maritime technology sector. Almost all recent orders for newbuilt vessels, including for green vessels, have been placed in South Korea or China, also by European shipowners, due to low prices offered by Asian yards benefitting from past and present state support.

Hence, any additional competitive distortions will no doubt result in a loss of the remaining part of Europe’s maritime technology sector, at a time that Europe aims at implementing the European Green Deal, also for the waterborne sector. Therefore, specific policy actions will be needed to enable Europe’s shipyards and maritime equipment industry to reap the promising benefits from the European Green Deal and the Fit-for-55 legislative package.

SEA Europe insists that any legislation and policy actions on zero-emission waterborne transport is technology and fuel neutral as well as goal-based.
On the inclusion of shipping into EU ETS, SEA Europe calls for the entire reinvestment of the revenues generated from this inclusion as well as from the penalties for non-compliance under FuelEU Maritime in the European maritime sector, including the maritime technology sector.

Without a holistic and goal-based approach and without technological and fuel neutrality, the road towards zero-emission waterborne transport may be seriously hampered, whilst promising opportunities for the maritime (technology) sector in delivering real emission reductions may be missed. A successful european green deal and fit-for-55 package should stimulate investments in the production of new green ships (newbuilding) as well as in the integration of green technologies and sustainable fuels onboard existing vessels (retrofitting of ships) and should also optimize the business case for sustainable alternative fuels, whilst addressing the distortion of competitiveness between european and asian shipyards. Without reducing the well-known unfair price gap with asia, or at least without stimulating innovative green shipping in europe, european shipyards and their supply chain will not be able to win the green competition from asia and thus to deliver on the goals of the european green deal.Christophe Tytgat, Secretary General Sea Europe