REPORT on strategic goals and recommendations for the EU’s maritime transport policy until 2018

30.3.2010 - (2009/2095(INI))

Committee on Transport and Tourism
Rapporteur: Peter van Dalen

Procedure : 2009/2095(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected :  


on strategic goals and recommendations for the EU’s maritime transport policy until 2018


The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 21 January 2009 on strategic goals and recommendations for the EU’s maritime transport policy until 2018 (COM(2009)0008) (‘communication on the EU’s maritime transport policy until 2018’),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 10 October 2007 on an integrated maritime policy for the European Union (COM(2007)0575),

–   having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A7‑0114/2010),

A. whereas European ship owners make an important contribution to the European economy but have to compete in a global environment,

B.  whereas structural and integrated measures to preserve and develop the thriving maritime sector in Europe are important and ought to enhance the competitiveness of maritime transport and related sectors, integrating the requirements of sustainable development and fair competition,

C. whereas attracting young people to, and keeping them in, maritime careers is an absolute necessity, and the level of training for maritime professionals in Europe needs to be improved through the impending revision of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping of Seafarers (STCW Convention),

D. whereas climate change poses the greatest challenge for all areas of European policy in the 21st century,

E.  whereas maritime transport is a relatively environmentally sound mode of transport, which nonetheless has much potential to become even cleaner than it already is; whereas it must be involved, through a gradual reduction in the carbon footprint of vessels and port infrastructures, in the efforts to combat climate change,

F.  whereas safety is of the utmost importance to ports, ship owners and seafarers on board and on shore; whereas safety measures must take into consideration protection of the coastal and marine environment as well as working conditions in ports and on board vessels,

G. whereas criminal attacks on European fishing and commercial vessels and passenger ships continue to take place in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia and in international waters,

H. whereas the European maritime industry is a world leader, its lead must be safeguarded in the long term and this is achievable only through innovation,

I.   whereas decisions need to be taken at the right administrative level, which means at global level where possible and at European level where necessary,


1.  Welcomes the communication on the EU’s maritime transport policy until 2018;

2.  Stresses the importance of the maritime transport sector to the European economy, not only as a carrier of passengers, raw materials, goods and energy products but also as the core of a wider cluster of maritime activities such as the naval industry, logistics, research, tourism, fisheries and aquaculture, and education;

3.  Emphasises that EU maritime policy should take account of the fact that the maritime transport industry faces competition not only within the Union but also, and above all, globally; emphasises, also, the importance of the growth of maritime transport, as part of the wider transport sector, both within and outside the EU;

4.  Hopes that EU maritime policies will henceforth be designed within the framework of a ‘single European sea’ and, consequently, calls on the Commission to develop a European maritime transport policy as part of a common maritime area;

The market

5.  Urges the Commission to continue to combat abuses of flags of convenience;

6.  Urges Member States, therefore, to encourage the use of their flags and to support their maritime clusters on shore, for example by providing fiscal facilities such as a tonnage tax system for ships as well as fiscal facilities for seafarers and ship owners;

7.  Considers that, like any sector of the economy, the maritime sector must in principle be governed by the rules on State aid, although State aid may exceptionally be permitted for specific cases provided that it is made available temporarily and in a transparent and comprehensible manner;

8.  Considers that the guidelines on State aid to shipping, which expire in 2011, must be retained and extended, since they have contributed substantially towards maintaining the international competitiveness of European shipping, towards its ability successfully to overcome the often unfair competition from third countries, and towards maintaining its leading position worldwide, and have therefore helped to support the economies of Member States;

9.  Calls on the Commission to submit the promised new rules on State aid for maritime transport in 2010, and further considers that the Commission should submit the guidelines on State aid to sea ports as quickly as possible;

10. Emphasises, in this context, that State aid should be used exclusively to support European maritime sectors that are committed to social standards, the promotion of jobs and the training of personnel in Europe, and to ensure the global competitiveness of European shipping;

11. Calls on Member States speedily to sign, ratify and implement the UN Convention on Contracts for the International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partly by Sea, known as the ‘Rotterdam Rules’, establishing the new maritime liability system;

12. Calls on the Commission to give greater consideration to maritime transport and its land-based structures during the forthcoming revision of the Community guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network, in particular the multimodal linking of European sea ports with the hinterland;

13. Welcomes the Commission’s proposal for a directive on reporting formalities for ships arriving in or departing from ports of the Member States of the Community (COM(2009)0011), in order to simplify, reduce and eliminate administrative procedures for European short sea shipping; calls on the Commission to continue to support short sea shipping with a view to substantially increasing the performance capacities of maritime transport within the Union;

Social aspects

14. Welcomes initiatives by Member States and the Commission to make maritime occupations more attractive to young EU citizens; emphasises the need to provide lifelong learning and retraining for seafarers at all levels, on shore and on board, with a view to strengthening the professional qualifications and skills of the workforce; advocates also that more information on the sector be provided at schools and that more traineeships be made available;

15. Calls on Member States, within the scope of international conventions such as the STCW Convention and the ILO 2006 Maritime Labour Convention, to improve and modernise existing training programmes with a view to further qualitative development of maritime colleges;

16. Stresses that seafarers from third countries must comply with satisfactory training requirements in accordance with the STCW Convention and calls on ship owners and national inspectorates to guarantee and enforce this, where necessary with the assistance of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA); reiterates its request for rapid ratification by Member States of the ILO 2006 Maritime Labour Convention and early adoption of the Commission’s proposal, based on the industry agreement, for incorporating key elements of the Convention into EU law;

17. Calls on Member States to encourage the use of EU seafarers in their own fleets and to create sufficient facilities to prevent the migration of seafarers outside the Union;

18. Welcomes the Commission’s suggestion that Member States should promote cooperation between European maritime institutions, and encourages Member States to harmonise their respective curricula and training schemes in order to promote and develop high levels of qualification and advanced skills among EU seafarers;

19. Emphasises that the social dimension and the working conditions of EU seafarers are closely linked to the competitiveness of the European fleet, and that it is necessary to facilitate labour mobility in the maritime industries throughout Europe and to ensure a fully functioning internal market without barriers and without unjustified restrictions on the provision of services;

20. Encourages the exchange of good practices in relation to employment conditions and social standards, as well as an improvement in living conditions on board vessels, particularly through the development of information and communication technologies, better access to healthcare, better safety standards and training to enable seafarers to cope with the risks inherent in their jobs;

21. Stresses that inspections must be specific and risk-based and must not generate any superfluous regulatory pressure on the industry;

22. Hopes that the capacity of technological developments to compensate for the declining availability of seafarers will be investigated, but warns against introducing untried technology too hastily;

23. Calls on maritime port authorities to improve facilities for seafarers on ships waiting at anchor in roadsteads, including facilities for easier transportation from ship to shore and vice versa;

The environment

24. Acknowledges that considerable progress must be made on reducing emissions of sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides, particulates (PM10) and CO2, and that this is necessary within the framework of the EU climate protection goals; stresses that the sector can contribute to the fight against harmful emissions and climate change and that public and private investments in research and development will be of particular interest in this regard;

25. Stresses that emissions reductions must be agreed rapidly and implemented with binding force via the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in order to limit disparities in competitive conditions, but that this must not prevent the Union from taking initiatives aimed at further reductions by the fleets of its Member States, thereby encouraging the other continents to become competitive in this area; draws attention here to the major disparities between short and long-distance sea shipping, which must be considered when reaching agreements in the IMO;

26. Calls on Member States to make more use – where possible in conjunction with neighbouring countries – of the option of designating maritime emission control areas, particularly for nitrogen oxides; emphasises that the establishment of further maritime emission control areas must not lead to distortion of competition within Europe;

27. Supports measures that encourage modal shifts towards maritime transport with a view to easing congestion on major roads; invites the Union and Member States to create logistics platforms at ports, which are essential for developing intermodality and strengthening territorial cohesion; stresses that international and EU rules must not hinder the efforts undertaken by national authorities in this regard; hopes to see the rapid and extensive introduction, within the framework of the Union for the Mediterranean, of ‘motorways of the sea’, which will help to reduce both pollution and congestion in land networks;

28. Supports in principle the amendments to Annex VI of the MARPOL Convention to reduce sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from ships, adopted by the IMO in October 2008; is concerned, however, about a possible shift back from short sea transport to road haulage as a result of the introduction of the 0.1% sulphur limit, envisaged as of 2015, in the sulphur emission control areas in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea; calls on the Commission, therefore, to submit a relevant impact assessment to Parliament as swiftly as possible and by the end of 2010 at the latest;

29. Considers that all modes of transport, including maritime transport, must gradually internalise their external costs; believes that the introduction of this principle will generate funds that can subsequently be used primarily for efforts to encourage innovation;

30. Calls on the Commission and Member States also to work on alternative instruments such as the introduction of a levy on bunker fuel, preferably geared to the quality and environmental performance of the fuel, or the concept of ‘green ports’, where clean vessels are dealt with more quickly and/or pay reduced harbour dues;

31. Calls on Member States to work within the IMO to set and implement appropriate and globally applicable environmental standards;

32. Notes in this connection the breakthrough in inland shipping technology which has made it possible to reduce emissions from existing ships’ engines substantially and the possible use of liquid natural gas as a fuel; calls on the Commission to investigate whether these techniques can also be used in seagoing vessels and how their implementation might be accelerated;

33. Deplores the fact that the Copenhagen Climate Summit did not succeed in reaching any conclusions with regard to reducing emissions from seagoing vessels, but stresses that intensive efforts must continue, both in the post-Kyoto process and in the IMO, to agree global measures to bring about such reductions; invites Member States to make every effort to ensure that the IMO receives a mandate for the next international climate negotiations, with quantifiable reduction targets for maritime transport;

34. Calls on the Union to lead this process at global level, notably in the IMO, with a view to reducing emissions from the maritime sector;

35. Stresses the importance in European ports of interoperable technical facilities for the supply of electricity from shore to ship, which can considerably reduce pollution; calls on the Commission to ascertain in which ports these facilities can be utilised efficiently;

36. Stresses that, as part of its research and development policy, the Commission must give priority to innovation in the area of renewable technologies for use on vessels, such as solar and wind technologies;

37. Calls on the Commission to examine the potential for reducing and monitoring pollution by using intelligent technologies in the transport sector, notably Galileo;

38. Stresses the need to promote paper-free port and customs operations and to ease cooperation at ports between the various service providers and consumers through the use of intelligent transport systems and networks such as SafeSeaNet and e-Custom, with a view to speeding up port operations and reducing pollution;


39. Appreciates the adoption of the Third Maritime Safety Package, and calls on Member States to implement the package speedily;

40. Advocates stringent checks on shipbuilding, including on the quality of steel used and on vessel design and maintenance, as provided for inter alia in the amended legislation on classification societies;

41. Supports the change of course in the Paris Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Port State Control, which entails replacing regular inspections with risk-based inspections, so that precisely those vessels which display numerous shortcomings are tackled effectively;

42. Calls on Member States and ship owners to seek to be placed on the Paris MoU ‘white list’; calls on Slovakia, in particular, to make an extra effort in this regard;

43. Calls on national inspectorates and other national authorities to cooperate more closely in exchanging data on vessels and their cargoes, so as to reduce regulatory pressure but increase the effectiveness of inspections; calls for the rapid introduction of an integrated information management system through the use and improvement of resources already available, especially SafeSeaNet; calls on the Commission to put in place as soon as possible an EU-wide cross-border and cross-sectoral surveillance system;

44. Is aware of the danger of piracy on the high seas, notably in the Horn of Africa area and the waters off the coast of Somalia, and calls on all ship owners to cooperate with government initiatives to protect them against piracy, along the lines of the EU’s successful first naval operation, Atalanta; calls on the Commission and Member States to strengthen cooperation among themselves and within the United Nations in order to protect seafarers, fishermen and passengers as well as the fleet;

45. Notes that the global approach to combating piracy cannot be limited to an international naval force but should form part of a comprehensive plan aimed at promoting peace and development in the area concerned; is aware, too, of the need for full and correct implementation by ships of the self-protection measures adopted by shipping organisations, through the Best Management Practices approved by the IMO;


46. Stresses that shipping is a global industry and that agreements ought, for preference, to be concluded on a global scale; considers the IMO to be the most appropriate forum for this; calls on Member States to make more effort to ratify and implement quickly IMO conventions which they have signed;

47. Acknowledges fully, moreover, the Union’s role in the transposition of international rules into EU law and in the implementation of and support for maritime policy, for example by EMSA;

48. Underlines the need to speed up the modernisation and expansion of port infrastructure capacities in anticipation of the expected rise in the volume of goods transported by sea; points out that this will require huge investments, which will have to comply with transparent and fair financing rules in order to ensure fair competition among European ports; calls on the Commission to ensure that the regulatory framework is coherent in this regard;

49. Calls on the Commission to consider its communication on the EU’s maritime transport policy until 2018 and this resolution as the basis for the forthcoming review of the Transport White Paper;

50. Calls for a policy that promotes connections between ports and inland areas (dry ports and logistics platforms) in regions suffering from congestion, this policy to be incorporated into the TEN-T review;

51. Underlines the economic and strategic importance of shipbuilding, which makes it possible to develop and use the new technologies applicable to vessels and to preserve crucial European skills that are needed to build new generations of vessels; calls for measures to support innovation, research and development, and training, with a view to developing a competitive and innovative European shipbuilding industry;

52. Requests that it be obligatory in port modernisation and expansion projects to equip passenger terminals and new passenger ships with facilities for people with reduced mobility;

53. Welcomes the initiative to develop a campaign to promote best practices among passenger transport and cruise ship operators in relation to passengers’ rights;

54. Calls on the Commission to take into account during the current TEN-T review the recommendations for the EU’s maritime transport policy until 2018, notably those concerning efficient integration of the ‘motorways of the sea’ and inland waterway transport, as well as the network of ports of European interest as integrating nodes;

55. Calls on the Commission to draft a comparable strategy for European inland waterway transport and to coordinate it with the present strategy, in order to promote the development of an optimised transport chain linking maritime freight transport and goods transport on inland waterways;

56. Calls on the Commission to submit without delay its promised roadmap, providing essential details to supplement its communication;

57. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.


Background to the proposal

The Communication from the Commission on 'Strategic goals and recommendations for the EU’s maritime transport policy until 2018' is a follow-up to the Commission's Communications 'Keep Europe moving - Sustainable mobility for our continent' and 'An Integrated Maritime Policy' (Blue Paper), and is partly based on independent opinions, studies and dialogue with the industry and on Parliament's response to the Blue Paper.

Summary of the Commission proposal

The Commission communication covers a wide range of subjects relating to European maritime transport policy. At the same time, the document is not of a particularly prescriptive character and allows maritime transport stakeholders ample scope and initiative to realise the strategic objectives and recommendations.

In brief, the communication covers six topics:

1.  The value and competitive position of European maritime shipping in a global market: the European maritime transport sector operates on a global market, in which it plays a very important role: 41% of the total global fleet is European-owned. However, the competitive position of the European fleet is increasingly coming under pressure from the increase in and development of State aid in the maritime transport sectors of third countries. For this reason, the Commission supports the development of fair international maritime trade conditions in the WTO and favours maintaining and improving the existing EU framework for tonnage taxation, income tax and State aid.

2.  Employment in the maritime sector: the European maritime industry is suffering from a growing shortage of skilled crews. Consequently, much expertise and relevant knowledge is being lost. This is not conducive to the competitive position of European maritime transport. The Commission therefore proposes promoting seafaring by providing better information at an early age and better career prospects. Administrative burdens should also be reduced and working conditions and terms of employment improved.

3.  The quality of European shipping: in recent years European maritime shipping and the supervisory authorities have made a substantial contribution to safer and cleaner maritime shipping. However, more is needed: the sector should therefore contribute more to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Commission will seek to develop emission standards within the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in order to safeguard Europe's competitive position. It is of particular importance to reduce emissions of sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides, and it should be investigated which European sea areas ought to be considered for designation as emission control areas. In addition, in view of the anticipated increase in the number of vessels, which moreover are growing bigger all the time, safety will become a far more important issue. The Commission will therefore ensure swift and correct implementation of the Third Maritime Safety Package and has made it one of its targets to ensure that by the end of 2012 all EU Member States are on the 'White List' of the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (Paris MOU). In addition, in view of the persistent threat of terrorist acts, security of maritime transport is a priority. The Commission proposes a firm response to piracy and increasing the protection of crew members, inter alia by introducing early alert systems.

4.  International cooperation: as the European maritime transport sector has to operate on a global market, the European Union has long advocated supporting the work of such international organisations as UNCLOS[1], the WTO and the IMO Within the IMO, especially, the Commission wishes Member States to enhance the recognition and visibility of the EU by formalising the EU coordination mechanism and granting formal observer status to the EU within that organisation. In addition the Commission proposes in particular ensuring swift ratification of IMO conventions at world level and the establishment of a system for actual enforcement of internationally agreed rules by all flag and coastal states in the world.

5.  European maritime transport as part of the European economy and as a driving force behind economic integration: maritime transport in the Member States is expected to increase from 3.8 billion tonnes in 2006 to 5.3 billion tonnes in 2018. This means that the European infrastructure and port capacity will need to be prepared for this increase within 10 years. At all events, port productivity will have to rise substantially. The EU should contribute to this by establishing a 'European maritime transport space without barriers' and stepping up the EU's 'Motorways of the Sea' strategy. Administrative burdens must also be reduced and suitable conditions created to attract investment in the ports sector. The Commission will also draw up guidelines for the application of EU environmental legislation to port development. In addition, the Trans-European Transport Network projects and the Marco Polo project will be used to respond to the growth of maritime transport and at the same time render it sustainable.

6.  Europe as a world leader in maritime research and innovation: Europe is currently the world leader in the field of maritime research and innovation. This position must be retained, because it affords opportunities for growth and efficiency on the part of Europe's industry (particularly its maritime transport industry). Particularly as regards environmental performance, there are many potential opportunities and advantages because 'greening' the industry is increasingly becoming a source of competitive advantage. The European Union must therefore continue to seek to improve vessels' safety and their environmental performance. The resultant sustainable mobility should help to make the whole transport chain more efficient.

Summary of the rapporteur's point of view

The rapporteur is favourably impressed by the Communication from the Commission. As the document deals with numerous subjects, his report is confined to a few priority points.

The rapporteur primarily considers that the importance of the maritime sector cannot be stressed too much. Europe's maritime sector makes a clear and vital contribution both to the Community's internal economy and to Europe's transport system. The interests of the European maritime transport sector must therefore be assigned high priority in establishing general European transport policy. It must be realised that the European maritime sector mainly operates and competes on a global market.

This global market also means that policy needs to be made to measure for maritime transport. The risk of reflagging, with all its adverse consequences for the environment, the quality of shipping and the maritime cluster, must not be underestimated. The rapporteur therefore considers that the Member States should do their utmost to encourage the (existing) use of their flags, for example by providing tax facilities for tonnage taxation and fiscal facilities for seafarers and ship owners. The rapporteur looks forward to the new rules on State aid which the Commission has promised. He calls on the Commission to submit them in 2010.

As regards employment and working conditions, the rapporteur considers that maritime occupations should become more attractive for young EU citizens. Particularly if maritime transport is to grow as expected, demand for crew members will only increase. It is therefore important that young people of all ages should receive information about the sector. It is also necessary to hold out attractive career prospects to seafarers, both at sea and on shore. At the same time, it must not be made impossible for ship owners to hire third-country nationals for their maritime transport operations, although of course it is important that such employees meet the training requirements and have the requisite professional qualifications. The rapporteur also considers that the legislation adopted in the ILO must be supported, ratified and adequately enforced worldwide to keep the working conditions of all seafarers up to scratch.

The maritime transport sector faces major challenges with regard to the environment. The primary task is to improve the environmental performance of seagoing ships substantially, and emissions of SOx, NOx, particulates (PM10) and CO2 must be reduced. In this connection it is very important that agreements on the subject should be reached at global level in order to combat the risk of reflagging to non-participating countries. The rapporteur advocates the development of emission control areas in European waters. To this end, he calls on the Member States, where possible with neighbouring countries, to designate such areas, particularly with the aim of limiting NOx emissions. The Commission and Member States must also devise alternative measures to improve environmental performance. These might include a levy on bunker fuel geared to the quality and environmental performance of the fuel used, and the concept of Green Ports. Under such a 'bonus/penalty' system, cleaner vessels would be dealt with in port more quickly than more polluting vessels and/or would receive a discount on their harbour dues. The rapporteur also has high hopes of the technological development of seagoing ships. In recent years, inland waterway vessels have made great progress in their environmental performance thanks to the development of new fuels and better engines. The Commission should investigate whether these technological developments can also be applied to maritime shipping. Finally, the rapporteur considers that electricity supply facilities should be established in sea ports to reduce emissions in ports.

In the field of safety, the rapporteur is very curious about the practical details of the Third Maritime Safety Package. Member States are therefore called upon to implement the package quickly and correctly. The rapporteur also takes a favourable view of the decision by the Paris MOU to switch to risk-based inspections. This will prevent unnecessary inspections, increase the effectiveness of monitoring and reduce the red tape for those subject to inspections. Lastly, on the closely related subject of security, the rapporteur wishes to express his unconditional support for the Atalanta mission which is protecting seagoing vessels against piracy around the Horn of Africa. Ship owners ought, in addition, to take up the security options available from Atalanta and other international cooperation bodies against piracy. As soon as possible, arrangements must also be agreed for appropriate trials of pirates who have been caught. The fact that in some cases apprehended pirates are currently released because they cannot be tried anywhere is hard to accept.

Finally, as maritime transport operates on a global market, primary legislative responsibility rests with the IMO. Within the IMO, the European Union should play a proactive role with a view to securing the drafting and ratification of new rules. The EU also, of course, plays a very important role in transposing IMO rules into the EU acquis and implementing them. Particularly at the implementation stage, EMSA should play the role appropriate to it. Inspections and supervision should be performed at Member State level in close consultation with the Paris MOU. The rapporteur also looks forward to the Road Map for Maritime Policy until 2018 which the Commission has promised to submit.

  • [1]                United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea


Date adopted





Result of final vote







Members present for the final vote

Magdalena Alvarez, Inés Ayala Sender, Georges Bach, Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Michael Cramer, Christine De Veyrac, Saïd El Khadraoui, Ismail Ertug, Carlo Fidanza, Knut Fleckenstein, Jacqueline Foster, Mathieu Grosch, Georgios Koumoutsakos, Werner Kuhn, Marian-Jean Marinescu, Gesine Meissner, Hella Ranner, Vilja Savisaar, Olga Sehnalová, Brian Simpson, Dirk Sterckx, Silvia-Adriana Ţicău, Georgios Toussas, Giommaria Uggias, Thomas Ulmer, Peter van Dalen, Dominique Vlasto, Artur Zasada, Roberts Zīle

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Zigmantas Balčytis, Philip Bradbourn, Isabelle Durant, Tanja Fajon, Ádám Kósa, Dominique Riquet, Laurence J.A.J. Stassen, Sabine Wils, Janusz Władysław Zemke