Lead­er­SHIP 2020 needs to be re­in­forced

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Europe’s ship­build­ing in­dus­try needs the EU’s strate­gic sup­port and Lead­er­SHIP 2020 is the right tool, but needs to be re­in­forced and ex­tended to 2030, ac­cord­ing to ex­perts meet­ing in Brus­sels last week.

Europe must be­come the fron­trun­ner in re­search and de­vel­op­ment re­gard­ing chal­lenges such as cli­mate change, en­ergy sav­ing and the greater com­plex­ity of ves­sels, since the mar­itime in­dus­try is cru­cial to Europe’s eco­nomic and so­cial fu­ture, they said. As a so­lu­tion, clus­ter­ing would strengthen this het­ero­ge­neous in­dus­try and make it more com­pet­i­tive, while stream­lin­ing ed­u­ca­tion and mak­ing jobs at­trac­tive to young peo­ple, in­clud­ing by en­hanc­ing their mo­bil­ity, is es­sen­tial. Europe also needs to take a strong stance on the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket – WTO, OECD, FTAs – in order to fight un­fair com­pe­ti­tion.

This was the con­clu­sion of a con­fer­ence or­gan­ised by the Euro­pean Eco­nomic and So­cial Com­mit­tee (EESC) where a num­ber of ex­perts, in­clud­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives of SEA Europe, In­dus­trieAll and the Com­mis­sion, had the op­por­tu­nity to ex­change views on the sta­tus of this vi­tal in­dus­try.

EESC mem­ber Mar­ian Krza­k­lewski out­lined the chal­lenges fac­ing the ship­build­ing in­dus­try – an area where Europe was strug­gling to main­tain its crit­i­cal mass. “We do hope that the Lead­er­SHIP 2020 strat­egy moves on. The EESC and the so­cial part­ners will con­trib­ute to it and we count on the Com­mis­sion for good co­op­er­a­tion,” he said at the out­set.

In his open­ing speech, CCMI del­e­gate Pa­trizio Pesci un­der­lined the im­por­tance of the sec­tor as a key in­dus­try with the po­ten­tial for smart, in­clu­sive and sus­tain­able growth, a sec­tor which was now not only strug­gling to re­cover from the eco­nomic and fi­nan­cial cri­sis, but was also suf­fer­ing from un­fair com­pe­ti­tion from third coun­tries.

“The mar­itime tech­nol­ogy in­dus­try is an in­no­va­tion­driven sec­tor, pro­vid­ing 500 000 jobs for a highly skilled work­force and cre­at­ing 400 000 in­di­rect jobs. 9% of rev­enue is rein­vested in re­search, de­vel­op­ment and in­no­va­tion. Europe can­not af­ford to aban­don this sec­tor,” he noted.

In a key­note video mes­sage, Ital­ian MEP Ser­gio Cof­ferati ex­plained the sit­u­a­tion in Italy and called for a more holis­tic ap­proach to the mar­itime in­dus­try. He also stressed the many dif­fi­cul­ties fac­ing busi­nesses – in­clud­ing ac­cess to fi­nance – which were hin­der­ing in­no­va­tion in gen­eral and a paradigm shift to in­dus­try 4.0.

Since the 1990s, when Europe and Ja­pan were the main global play­ers in the ship­build­ing mar­ket, much has changed. In par­tic­u­lar the emer­gence of South Korea as a new com­peti­tor in the 2000s, fol­lowed by China a decade later, has forced Europe to change its strat­egy. And for a while Europe was quite suc­cess­ful in se­cur­ing niche mar­kets such as high-tech and cruise ships. Since the global cri­sis in 2008, how­ever, when Lehman Broth­ers went bank­rupt, the ship­build­ing in­dus­try world­wide has suf­fered a se­ri­ous set­back.

“The worst is still ahead,” warned Rein­hard Lüken, Chair of SEA Europe’s Mar­ket and Trade Work­ing Group, as the lack of or­ders from pre­vi­ous years would only be felt in the years to come.

“But we can get it right,” he added. Lead­er­SHIP 2020 was the right tool, but it needed to be strength­ened and prob­a­bly trans­lated into Lead­er­SHIP 2030. Un­like the EU, China had set up the right strat­egy and was aware of the im­por­tance of the naval in­dus­try. The next Lead­er­SHIP strat­egy needed to in­clude the naval sec­tor.

El­speth Hath­away, pol­icy ad­vi­sor at In­dus­triAll, un­der­lined the im­por­tance of the mar­itime sec­tor for job cre­ation. De­spite job losses rang­ing from 15% to 75% depend­ing on the re­gion, the blue econ­omy still ac­counted for 5.4 mil­lion jobs in Europe, which still pro­duced 50% of to­tal marine sup­plies world­wide. The chal­lenge ahead in this sec­tor would be re­tain­ing skills. Life-long learn­ing was par­tic­u­larly cru­cial in this high-tech sec­tor.

“It’s im­por­tant to an­tic­i­pate em­ploy­ment and skills needs and to im­ple­ment re-skilling and re-train­ing pro­grammes. We also need to give the right pic­ture and at­tract young peo­ple to this sec­tor,” she said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Cyprus

© PressReader. All rights reserved.