As global players, European shipping companies first and foremost need global rules to maintain their competitive edge. Europe should remain globally competitive as a location for shipping activities. We need a comprehensive and globally oriented shipping policy in the EU.
The EU has an overall competitive regime in place for fiscal and social measures as well as quality registers and a strong skills base. This combination supports the current status of the EU as an attractive location for shipping activities.
However, the challenges to growth include slower growth in EU in terms of the tonnage operated and owned in particular. EU is also facing increasingly competitive pressure as it is losing share of the world merchant fleet registered under EU flags.
According to the 2017 Monitor Deloitte study on EU shipping competitiveness, the European maritime industry is at the risk of losing ground to other globally leading shipping centres. The study compares the overall EU policy framework for shipping with policies of Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, Shanghai and Vancouver. The benchmark exercise is based on eight criteria: taxation and fiscal incentives, availability of professional services, regulatory, economic and political factors, skills, flag attractiveness, ease of doing business, legal framework for vessel exploitation and availablilty of finance.
The maritime state aid guidelines form an essential part of the EU policy framework. Legal certainty in the continuity of the guidelines is paramount. The guidelines are inherently flexible in nature and should therefore in their current format already allow for new growth opportunities of the maritime cluster and more competitiveness.
To develop further growth in European shipping, the EU needs to adapt this framework into a comprehensive, globally oriented shipping policy that aims to improve the EU’s competitiveness as a location for international shipping. The policy should be comprehensive by cutting across policy fields like transport, taxation and environment and thereby cover the key competitiveness factors.