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Exclusive : Marek Grzybowski 3 questions for Martin Dorsman,  Secretary General of European Community Shipowners’ Associations

 European shipping is still a strategic asset for the EU. European shipowners control some 40% of the world fleet on average

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Marek Grzybowski

ECSA is representing the interests of its members to the European institutions, the Commission, the Parliament, and the representations of EU Member States in Brussels. in an exclusive interview with Marek Grzybowski and 3 questions for Martin Dorsman, Secretary-General of European Community Shipowners’ Associations

Marek Grzybowski: European Shipping has a long history. How can you describe European Shipping in numbers today?

Martin Dorsman: European shipping is still a strategic asset for the EU. European shipowners control some 40% of the world fleet on average and provide some 2 million people with a job. The contribution to the EU’s GDP is some € 149 bln. per year. Of EU’s total external trade some 76% is transported by sea. Of the trade between the EU Member States, some 32% is by sea, called short sea shipping.
The share of the EU flagged fleet in the total world fleet is a bit below 20%. Some countries in the EU prove that the goal to increase this share can be met, by introducing policies that make it attractive for shipowners to fly the flag of their country. In the ’90s of the last century, the Netherlands showed the way how to do this, nowadays Denmark is an example of a country that launched effective policy measures to increase the number of ships flying the Danish flag.
We always have to remember that the choice of a flag can’t be forced upon shipowners by regulations. A flag has to be a competitive option, otherwise, the flag will not be a sustainable choice for shipowners.

No description available.

Marek Grzybowski: What does European Community Shipowners’ Associations do? What are the strategic priorities of the ESCA?

Martin Dorsman: ECSA is representing the interests of its members to the European institutions, the Commission, the Parliament, and the representations of EU Member States in Brussels.
This representation is done by drafting position papers on policy proposals, informing EU regulators on the specific characteristics of the shipping industry, coming forward with alternatives for proposed regulations, and also paying attention to an effective and efficient way of enforcing regulations.
ECSA’s overall policy is to safeguard the competitive position of European shipowners so that Europe remains an attractive place for shipowners to perform their business.
The challenge is to combine the ambitious goals of the EU on the environment and social affairs with the need to remain competitive. The shipping industry is fully committed to becoming climate neutral as quickly as possible, but we have to take into account that shipping is a global industry, and regulation by the United Nations’ IMO is the preferred option.
At the same time, the political reality is that the EU will come forward with a new environmental policy proposal specifically directed at the shipping industry. ECSA’s aim is to make sure that these proposals are effective, takes into account the SME character of the shipping industry, and can be aligned with future IMO regulations.
Also on the social files, ECSA has clear ambitions, especially when it is about increasing the attractiveness of European seafarers. ECSA is convinced that European seafarers contribute to the strength of EU shipping. Concrete actions are needed to make sure European seafarers are competitive also in the longer run. Increasing their skills is a very important way to contribute to this goal and together with the European Transport Workers’ Federation ETF we execute joint projects, funded by the EU. Increasing the inclusivity and diversity of the sector is also an important goal of both ECSA and the ETF.
To mention another important goal of ECSA is to keep global trade flows open and to maintain a rule-based global trade system. Without open markets EU shipping will face numerous trade barriers, seriously hampering trade flows and ultimately negatively impacting the world economy. ECSA is in frequent dialogue with the European Commission on trade policy and supports a review of the World Trade Organisation WTO, to enable them to play the same important role regarding trade topics as they did over the last decades.
This representation is done by drafting position papers on policy proposals, informing EU regulators on the specific characteristics of the shipping industry, coming forward with alternatives for proposed regulations, and also paying attention to an effective and efficient way of enforcing regulations.
ECSA’s overall policy is to safeguard the competitive position of European shipowners so that Europe remains an attractive place for shipowners to perform their business.

No description available.

The challenge is to combine the ambitious goals of the EU on the environment and social affairs with the need to remain competitive. The shipping industry is fully committed to becoming climate neutral as quickly as possible, but we have to take into account that shipping is a global industry, and regulation by the United Nations’ IMO is the preferred option. At the same time, the political reality is that the EU will come forward with a new environmental policy proposal specifically directed at the shipping industry. ECSA’s aim is to make sure that these proposals are effective, takes into account the SME character of the shipping industry, and can be aligned with future IMO regulations.
ECSA logo
Also on the social files, ECSA has clear ambitions, especially when it is about increasing the attractiveness of European seafarers. ECSA is convinced that European seafarers contribute to the strength of EU shipping. Concrete actions are needed to make sure European seafarers are competitive also in the longer run. Increasing their skills is a very important way to contribute to this goal and together with the European Transport Workers’ Federation ETF, we execute joint projects, funded by the EU. Increasing the inclusivity and diversity of the sector is also an important goal of both ECSA and the ETF.
To mention another important goal of ECSA is to keep global trade flows open and to maintain a rule-based global trade system. Without open markets EU shipping will face numerous trade barriers, seriously hampering trade flows and ultimately negatively impacting the world economy. ECSA is in frequent dialogue with the European Commission on trade policy and supports a review of the World Trade Organisation WTO, to enable them to play the same important role regarding trade topics as they did over the last decades.
On ECSA’s priority list numerous other topics are included, such as combating piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, the migrant crisis in the Med, cybersecurity, safety issues, and so on and so forth.

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Marek Grzybowski: European shipping should not only remain the leader in maritime shipping, but also the leader in maritime knowledge. What does this mean in the practical activities of ECSA?

Martin Dorsman: I already referred to the project jointly run with the ETF to increase the skills of European seafarers. This project is called SkillSea (www.skillsea.eu) and the main goal is to create a strategy and concrete tools to translate current and future trends in the shipping industry and the society into the educational packages of the European maritime education and training institutes (METs).
If we don’t create such a strategy and tools, then running such a project is important but in ten years’ time, we have to have another project like SkillSea. So we try to create a system that is here to stay for many years.
Trends that will lead to changes in the educational packages are for example digitalization and automation, the greening of the fleet, and the need to have more ‘soft skills, such as managerial skills.
Another activity is to exchange best practices between ECSA’s members of successful national maritime labour market policies. As the shipping industry, the labour market, the educational systems differ quite substantially between the EU Member States, there is no such a thing as a ‘silver bullet’ to work on more European seafarers, more youngsters that go to a nautical education, etc. It has to be bottom-up instead of top-down, starting at the national level. At the European level, we can exchange best practices, learn from each other and try to improve the labour market policies at the national level based on this input from colleagues in the other EU Member States.

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