Strategic Priorities

Strategic Priorities


The European shipping industry is a success story and a geostrategic asset to the EU in the face of global challenges.

Did you know that 76% of the EU’s external trade[1] is shipped by sea and 40% of the world fleet[2] is controlled by European shipowners?

In today’s hyper-connected world, the seamless and sustainable transport of goods and passengers is a key enabler for growth and prosperity. 90% of everything we consume arrives by sea. Without any doubt, shipping is at the very heart of global trade.

The European shipping industry is a success story and a geostrategic asset to the EU in the face of global challenges. European shipowners operate one of the largest, youngest and most innovative fleets in the world. With its diverse fleet of container ships, tankers, passenger ships, bulk carriers, offshore service vessels and many other specialised ships, the EU shipping industry contributes a total of €147 billion to the EU’s annual GDP[3]. The fleet also boasts one of the best safety records in the world.

The industry is firmly anchored in the European economy, with a strong presence of shipping companies, a strategic deep-sea fleet and a unique Short Sea Shipping sector serving the EU transport network. The shipping sector is the backbone of the European maritime cluster consisting of amongst others shipbuilding companies, research institutes, educational institutes, maritime suppliers of goods and services and ports. Thanks to its extensive global outreach, the EU shipping industry is active in all markets around the world, facilitating trade to and from the EU, with a substantial engagement in cross-trading between third countries. In fact, the largest share of EU shipping is international.  

European shipping also plays an important geopolitical role for the EU. Different segments of our industry serve the different needs of our continent. Ferries that transport goods and passengers are an integral component of the interconnected transport network of Europe, and together with the short sea shipping segment, facilitate the Single Market. Liners maintain Europe's trading capacity through a network of regular scheduled services that connect us to our trading partners. Dry bulk carriers, tankers, LNG/ LPG carriers ensure the security of our supplies in energy, raw material and staple goods. In this way the EU shipping industry plays a crucial role in safeguarding the EU's geopolitical independence through supply diversification.

Shipping is a sustainable mode of transport, and the sector is committed to working towards becoming carbon-neutral within this century. New means of propulsion, new low carbon or fossil free fuels available worldwide and collaboration with partners in the supply chain are necessary to ultimately reach full decarbonisation. European shipowners cooperate with the shipbuilding sector, ports, equipment manufacturers and the research community so that innovative and sustainable solutions can be found to drive the whole maritime industry together towards a greener future, including in key areas such as air emissions, waste management, and the protection of marine life. The European maritime industry embraces these challenges and is committed to taking the global lead for clean shipping.


The Rapidly Changing Global Shipping Landscape

Our world is changing much faster than before, driven by challenges such as climate change, digitalisation, societal developments, the increase in barriers to free trade, and security concerns.

These global challenges need to be urgently addressed through robust regulations set by international bodies. Within the framework of these rules, the EU shipping industry is committed to placing itself at the forefront of change. European shipowners will continue to contribute to this process through pro-active engagement and a relentless drive for innovation.

Better EU regulation leads to a stronger and more competitive European shipping sector. With the continuous support of EU regulators, who understand the national and international challenges faced by the European maritime sector, our industry will be better placed to benefit from quality standards and be a leader in the sector-wide implementation of globally-recognised rules.

Through an open dialogue with EU regulators, the European shipping industry strives to achieve the goals it set for itself in 10 priority areas:

Europe is proud of its centuries-old maritime traditions and of its unique shipping industry. Building upon our extensive knowledge and know-how, in combination with the latest innovations and digital tools, and the strong commitment of EU and national policymakers, our industry is confident we can turn current challenges into a growth opportunity for Europe.



[1] European Commission, EU Transport in Figures - Statistical Pocketbook, (Luxembourg, Publications Office of the European Union, 2018), 29.

[2] Id., 98.

[3] Oxford Economics, The Economic Value of the EU shipping industry, (London, Oxford Economics, 2017), 5.