ECSA: European Green Deal must take into account the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

02 Apr 2020

Following the statement by the Executive Vice-President, Frans Timmermans, on the postponement of the COP26, the ECSA Board of Directors who met today took note of and fully supports the firm commitment of the European Commission towards the European Green Deal, but is also of the opinion that the first priority should be the rescue and full recovery of the EU shipping industry.

"Mr Timmermans very rightly pointed out that the COP26 needed to be postponed, because the world should not allow it to fail due to insufficient participation," commented Mr Claes Berglund, the President of ECSA.

"We should likewise not allow the European Green Deal to fail, due to the inability of our industry and our workers to contribute fully because of the current difficulties we are all experiencing from the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic," he continued.

Currently, the European shipping industry is working hard to ensure goods, supplies and medical equipment continue to come into Europe and flow out of Europe. Yet shipping companies are facing increasing obstacles staying afloat, due to liquidity issues, decreasing sources of financing, amongst others. With the largest part of the industry being small and medium enterprises, shipping companies will need the support of national governments and the EU to mitigate any long-term repercussions from the pandemic.

"Shipping is responsible for 76% of the EU's external freight trade and 32% of its internal transport of goods. European shipowners own 39.5% of the world fleet. As the EU’s unique, valuable economic and geo-political asset, shipping has to recover from this crisis in order for the rest of the economy to follow suit."

The European shipping industry fully stands behind the European Commission's ambition in the European Green Deal. To ensure that the goal is reached, the whole maritime industry needs substantial investment and funding from the EU and national governments. Judging from the current situation, it will not be realistic to assume that the industry is able to play its part, despite its full commitment to the cause, without first ensuring that companies can and must make full recovery.

"A coordinated approach by all member states and a maritime-specific rescue and recovery plan urgently need to be put in place for that to happen," said Mr Berglund.

"Like what Mr Timmermans said, the European Green Deal was formulated in the interest of the health of our economy and our people. For the deadline to be maintained at all costs without first considering the health of our economy and our people, will leave thousands of companies and workers behind," he concluded.