Fifth Annual Stakeholders Conference





Dear speakers, Dear guests, Dear colleagues,

It has been a pleasure to welcome you last week for the Fifth edition of our Annual Stakeholders’ Conference.

Many thanks to all speakers for their time, for sharing their thoughts and debating with such energy and openness. We are grateful to our moderators for their enthusiasm and for supporting our efforts to be inclusive and empathize with our sister organizations’ challenges.

As we heard from Mr Marc Lachièze-Rey, a Big Bang is neither a disaster nor an end, but may be a special moment where different parts of matter and energy aggregate to form a new structure… Is this what we need from our policy makers for our maritime sector?

When we decided to dedicate a session of FEPORT’s Conference to shipbuilding, few people expressed their surprise as our organization is not representing shipyards but private port companies and seaport terminals. Our answer is that we believe in the “coalition of the willing” to collectively raise awareness about the strategic importance of the maritime cluster.

We also believe that, in the “EU shipbuilding case study”, there are a lot of lessons to be learnt by all the actors of the maritime cluster, but also by policy makers when elaborating future proposals and policies.

Our colleagues from the EU shipyards have gone through difficult times when, in 1998, upon proposal of the European Commission, the EU Council adopted Regulation (EC) No 1540/98 establishing new rules on aid to shipbuilding and prohibiting operating aid for EU shipyards. This happened in a context where there was no efficient “international police to avoid a subsidy race among third countries’ shipyards” and led to the situation we know today.

It is really a pity for the EU that containerships are essentially built in Asia. But what is worse is to accept it as a “fact of life” or claim that those ships are not, in terms of technology or added value, interesting for EU shipyards.

Multilateral instruments have proven to be challenging for EU shipbuilding because of the complexity of filing a complaint in the framework of the WTO. Hence, it is important for the EU to think about other tools.

While, after listening to the representatives of DG Grow and DG Comp, we better understood the rationale that motivated the decision of the European Commission in the late 1990's with respect to sectoral State Aid rules, we probably still think that EU support to the competitiveness of the maritime sector should not be based on an “either, or” principle, but should be inclusive and benefit many industries.

Do we need to support EU shipping? The answer is yes! Do we need to support EU port stakeholders? The answer is also yes! Do we need to support EU shipyards and marine equipment manufacturers? Same answer: yes! Do we need to support EU dredging? Of course yes!

We could continue to list all sectors that constitute the maritime cluster, but our message might be clear enough…

Session 2 allowed us to understand that slowbalisation might not be the solution to reduce emissions and face the climate crisis.

These 10 last years, member States’ as well as EU support to Research and Innovation in the area of alternative fuels has not been significant enough. Similarly, early movers did not get the necessary legal certainty or security to continue to invest in innovative solutions and precompetitive research. We hope that the new partnership with the Waterborne Technology Platform marks a new era for the maritime sector.

Maritime industries believe that the Green Deal can be an opportunity if it is designed and elaborated with them and not without or against them.

Port stakeholders are mobilized to support the reduction of emissions during ships’ calls but as mentioned by Pino Musolino and Gerald Hirt “one swallow does not make Spring”. Cooperation, data sharing, data analytics in shipping and ports as well as joint initiatives will be crucial to succeed. Port stakeholders cannot face the pressure of cities complaining about shipping emissions alone.

The title of the last session of the day was a bit provocative but also reflecting current fears that we all will be replaced one day by an artificial intelligence which does not need to eat, sleep or take vacation.

Artificial intelligence is already in place and robots will certainly take over some tasks that are done today by human beings, but does this mean that human creativity will not be needed anymore? Shouldn’t we collectively think about reskilling, conversion, job mobility and other solutions? Industries will have to make a huge effort to reskill and upskill and the battle can be won only if employers and employees join forces.

You can have access here below to the extensive version of the conference report, to the presentations and pictures on the webpage of the conference.

We look forward to seeing you next year!

We wish you and your families a joyful holiday season and a happy new year.

With kind regards,




On November 28, FEPORT held its Fifth Annual Stakeholders’ Conference in Brussels, which focussed on the question of whether “we need a “Big Bang” for the European maritime logistics strategy?”. On whether policymakers need to respond to a potential big bang, speakers made it clear that the new EU Commission needed to act. Most notably, numerous participants stressed the need for legislation to guarantee a level playing field within the EU and vis-à-vis third country players.

While the ideal outcome would be fair competition at the global level, the EU should ensure that all companies from third countries operating in the European market also abide by the same rules that are adhered to by EU enterprises, particularly with regards to receiving State-aid and the resulting market distortion.

In this respect, calls to the Commission were heard to review the rules and make them fit for purpose.

An additional central theme discussed was the impact the new green deal would have on the shipping sector, particularly given the need to reduce emissions. Addressing the Commission, speakers made it clear that the challenges posed by climate change could also be an opportunity for the industry, but only if policy is drawn up with input from maritime sector stakeholders.

Furthermore, items of discussion also included the challenges and opportunities posed by digitalisation and how to adequately upskill the workforce in the face of technological advances and increased automation. Please find a full summary of the conference below.


Welcoming speeches

Barbara Schretter, Director General of the Representation of the Free State of Bavaria, opened the FEPORT Fifth Annual Stakeholders’ Conference and welcomed guests and participants. On the theme of this year’s conference, whether a big bang theory is required, she noted that the industry must deal with many challenges which are currently being posed, such as solutions needed to deal with climate change, digitalisation and Brexit. Moreover, Bavaria is seeking to lower carbon emissions from transport and there are many legal and technical challenges to address, such as harmonising EU technology with new requirements. Only if all take up such challenge can Europe be successful regarding the next big bang.

Gunther Bonz, FEPORT President, welcomed guests and thanked the Representation of the Free State of Bavaria for hosting the conference. Mr Bonz noted that the share of global GDP in 1990 was 26 percent for Europe, 18 percent for the US and 4 percent for China. Now, the figures stand at 33 percent for China, 18 percent for Europe and 19 percent for the US. Regarding the next Commission, he remarked that the drive to lower emissions in Europe must still ensure that Europe can compete in a global economy.

Years ago, China has been active in stopping additional liner shipping alliances. The EU has chosen to keep the same legislation for more than 15 years in spite of the major developments that have taken place. He called for the EU to set up a new General Block Exemption Regulation so that Europe can defend its maritime logistics industry. He questioned if a prolongation of the General Block Exemption Regulation was the right solution for Europe. In this regard, there is not enough data available and nobody has accurate figures on market share, such as for COSCO. Mr Bonz added that, if a prolongation is set up, port operators will possibly ask for the same treatment or explore all legal options.


Lamia Kerdjoudj-Belkaid, FEPORT Secretary General, also welcomed guests and thanked colleagues for their work. She noted that a digital tool,, was available for guests to log on and that questions would be posed via the application and that guests could also ask questions there. A question posed to the audience was “which of the following topic(s) is/was relevant to you?”. The majority of respondents chose climate crisis. This was followed by competitiveness and then trade wars. She then gave the floor to the keynote speaker, Mr Lachièze-Rey.



Keynote speech

Marc Lachièze-Rey, Astrophysicist specialized in “Big Bang” theory, stated that the big bang theory was also a revolution in the social sense, as it had cultural and political implications.

The story dates from the beginning of the 20th century and the theory was a complete change regarding the conception of the universe. It was a singular event which led to a long evolution and the eventual creation of objects at the astronomical scale and the micro scale. One aspect of the revolution was passing from a restricted view of the world to a much larger universal perspective.

The universe was once considered static and always remaining the same. George Lemaitre’s and Edwin Hubble’s work showed that the universe was not static, and Lemaitre proposed the theory of big bang. Then came Einstein’s theories on special relativity and general relativity. His theories took the whole content of the universe into account and he described the universe as geometrical spacetime with its material content, as a solution of general relativity. Hubble then discovered that galaxies were, in fact, moving further away from each other and all big bang models are based on the model that recession velocity is proportional to its distance from the Milky Way. Lemaitre’s main contribution was that this expansion began at a finite time in the past and this finite time is estimated at roughly 13 billion years ago. The primordial universe was much denser and hotter than now, and this implies that structures and objects were completely different, with no atoms, planets or stars present.

The story of the big bang primarily concerns a long process of increased structuration which ultimately led to the present structure of the universe and Earth on a more micro level. There are many remaining questions, such as what is the present rate of expansion? And, whether the universe is shrinking or expanding? A big question is also if there is a lot of dark matter in the universe. It is theorised that before the big bang there may have been a pre-existing universe which was continuously shrinking. Concluding, he underlined that the big bang is a kind of event or process which is followed by a long expansion.


Lamia Kerdjoudj-Belkaid remarked that the big bang could be positive as it could result in more structure being put in place. She made the link between the big bang and the EU and, more precisely, with the maritime logistics sector, at the moment. Moreover, the theory contains hope for the future of the sector, she underlined.



Session 1 - Competitiveness and level playing field: lessons learnt from the shipbuilding industry 


Moderator Paris Sansoglou, Secretary General EuDA, introduced the panellists for the first session. On the big bang theory, he noted that this session would look at the order of things in the maritime sector. Following this, Mr Sansoglou gave Mr Daniel the floor.

Keynote speech

Laurent Daniel, Senior Economist, Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation at OECD, stated that he would talk about competitiveness and lessons learnt from the shipbuilding industry. Concerning the current state of play and the main players, he said that there are many international organisations dealing with maritime issues and shipbuilding, such as the WTO, the IMO and the International Working Group on export credits. Regarding legal cases pertaining to shipbuilding, however, there are very few cases seen in this area.

Concerning the WP6, it was created in 1966 and the aim was to negotiate trade rules. Current work being undertaken includes an attempt to explore sectoral rules on the shipbuilding instruments. There are 12 OECD countries which are members, in addition to other countries, such as China. Moreover, there is a strong industry involvement. Reports are produced on such issues as ship recycling and market distortion.

On trends affecting the shipbuilding market, environmental regulation is very important due to additional requirements. These regulations can also be a driver of ship replacement. New or improved infrastructure, such as the widening of the Suez Canal, can also play a role in shipbuilding. There are additional trends, such as reshoring. 10 years ago, the growth of trade was about twice the growth of GDP in this industry and now it is at about the same level as GDP.

Shipbuilding is a volatile market which has seen peaks in 1959, 1975 and 2011. There is a lag between deliveries and orders, and this explains why the most recent peak was seen after the 2008 financial crisis. Furthermore, there are sub-segments inside shipbuilding, such as containers and tankers. The market share for the largest bulkers is seen in Japan, South Korea and China and they account for over 90 percent of production in this regard.

On European market share, it has stabilised and is even slightly growing. This is mainly due to the fact that the cruise ship market is strong and growing, and European yards are strong in this market. Many industries are connected to shipbuilding and there are complex value chains involved. In Europe, marine equipment is an even larger market than shipbuilding and is three times the value of shipbuilding in Europe. China is currently focussing on maritime technology development, including maritime equipment which will pose increased competition to Europe.

There are many additional sectors in the maritime cluster, such as ports, sea shipping and maritime suppliers and they are very entwined. He noted that ports, for example, are the largest maritime segment in the Netherlands and 47,703 jobs are directly provided in the Netherlands in this sector. In terms of the biggest global yards, many of them, in terms of deliveries, are based in Asia, with most being in Korea and China. Two of the 10 biggest yards worldwide are however based in Europe.

Regarding whether there is a global level playing field, there is strong evidence of large subsidies at the global level. In addition, there are some studies on subsidisation showing that the Chinese government has given up to 90 billion dollars. However, it is not easy to assess this because the information is sensitive. Moreover, there is weak profitability in the shipbuilding industry and the ratio is often below 10 percent of EBITDA on sales. A report on the imbalances in shipbuilding, which is available online, noted that there is a sub-optimal level of yard exits and yard survival.

There were also some instruments in the past which called for the removal of subsidies and for cooperation to reduce excess capacity. The problem was that these two instruments were not legally binding, and countries continued as before. There was an agreement, signed in 1994, to create a sectoral trade agreement, called the shipbuilding agreement. It includes a binding dispute settlement mechanism, for example. Unfortunately, it was not ratified by the US and therefore never entered into force.

On operating subsidies in Europe, the figures show a declining trend in shipbuilding capacity since 1975. Operating aid fell from 1.1 billion euro in 1990 to 548 million euro across Europe in 1998. These subsidies stopped in 2005. The subsidies falling away also caused the market to adapt, with many shipbuilders moving into the cruise ship sector. In the 1960s, Europe represented 60 percent of the global shipbuilding market. A big strength in Europe is that there is specialisation in niche markets, such as the production of green ships which are a big opportunity; in addition to the cruise ship sector, he concluded.


Panel discussion

Moderator Paris Sansoglou said that the case of shipbuilding was a telling narrative. Although shipbuilding is localised in certain parts of the world, it is a global market. He noted that over capacity could be artificially maintained to hurt competitors. In addition, there are sub-optimal exits and entries and he questioned if certain subsidies were designed to hurt or target Europe. He asked Ms Dohms for her take on the shipbuilding side.

Bojana Dohms, Case Handler Shipbuilding, DG Comp, underlined that State-aid is still a legitimate tool of public policy. While prohibited in EU treaties, there are still exceptions to this and it is allowed in certain instances for shipbuilding. This means that shipbuilding companies can receive State-aid under various rules, such as in the area of research and development (R&D). On exits, when companies are in difficulty and cannot survive with further State-aid support, there are strict rules in Europe.

If companies are not viable in the long-term, they should exit the market. They can be restructured under State-aid rules, but there are restrictions in place, as it was seen in the case of LaNaval in Spain. On operating aid, it is not perceived to be a good type of aid as it may artificially keep companies alive. The Commission is aware of State-aid being given by certain Asian countries and the Commission is involved in dialogue at various levels. However, the results have not yet been positive and transparency on how much State-aid is being given remains an issue.

Moderator Paris Sansoglou remarked that the Commission viewed State-aid as a temporary backstop and not as a permanent fixture. He asked Mr Lüken for his views on the presentation.

Reinhard Lüken, Managing Director VSM and Member of Sea Europe, stated that China was now the biggest export credit granter in the world. Moreover, there are only non-binding rules at OECD level and the inventory instrument does not work either and both these issues must be addressed. China has pumped 90 billion dollars into their shipbuilding industry and the calculation is that Korea has pumped around 30 billion into their shipbuilding industry.

Certain State-aid instruments are allowed in Europe, but this has no comparison to the aforementioned figures in Asia. He asked why countries were so interested in dominating this industry. There are many reasons, not least strategic interests. Furthermore, there is the naval aspect. China has an explicit naval defence strategy and it is a key point in their security plan. They can buy sensitive technology for the civilian market and this is what they do. He estimated that, at best, 50 percent of the motivation for subsidies was growth and the economy; the other 50 percent is for defence capabilities.

Europe has been told for decades that the costs were too high. It has been shown that the competitors have not provided more value, they have just had deeper pockets. Europe is growing, that is true. However, Europe only has passenger ships left and China is focussing on high technology shipbuilding

Moderator Paris Sansoglou asked if Europe could recuperate what it had lost. When markets are lost, knowledge is progressively eroded.

Reinhard Lüken replied that, no, this would be extremely complicated. The US has tried to come back, for instance, and they found out that they could not and they are two to three times more expensive than shipbuilders in Europe.

Moderator Paris Sansoglou asked Mr Merk on his views on the presentation.

Olaf Merk, Administrator, ITF OECD, said that he wanted to highlight the importance of having a level playing field. There are maritime State-aid guidelines in place and they give clarity as to which types of aid the sector can benefit from. Moreover, there is transparency regarding what is allowed and what is not. It also tends to avoid market distortion and promotes a level playing field. However, there are different policies in place across European countries.

On the tonnage tax, he explained that it was a tax for the shipping sector which gives a predictable tax rate. In certain European schemes, cargo handling activities can be brought under this tonnage tax and it is a practice allowed by the Commission. There has been vertical integration in this sector which means that some shipping companies have terminals. This means that some taxes that probably should have been paid on terminal activities are no longer paid, which puts carriers that do not have terminals at a disadvantage, while giving terminal operators that are part of vertical groups an advantage.

There is also a link with freight forwarders and there are differences between countries and there are market distortions at play. However, cargo handling is not part of the maritime State-aid guidelines. While the State-aid guidelines are designed to avoid market distortion, he said that they had to be refit for purpose.

Moderator Paris Sansoglou noted that State-aid outside the EU is called subsidies and is treated differently. He stated that Mr Merk had highlighted the dissimilar treatment of similar activities in Europe. He then gave the floor to Ms Bonvisutto.

Barbara Bonvissuto, Head of Unit, DG Grow, underlined that industry would have to go through substantial changes to meet the climate and digital challenges. The Commission will come up with the green deal soon and then with the strategy on digital. The contribution of industry is crucial for this transition. She noted that this industry is one that spends a large amount when it comes to innovation investment. While the share in terms of tonnage, may not be too large, 20 percent of the value is created in Europe. The question is how to build on the positive trends, especially given fierce competition from third countries who do not always abide by the same rules.

Recently, a waterborne technology partnership was agreed upon and this industry must be seen in the broader context of innovation in the blue economy. There is also the paradigm of defence in Europe and it must be seen how this industry can benefit in this respect.

The Commission has reformed anti-dumping rules and has implemented a new screening mechanism for FDI. She said that, overall, the EU’s approach was less naïve when it comes to dealing with third countries. There is also a dialogue in place with China and it is a way to push them to address structural issues, such as over-capacity and low prices.

Moderator Paris Sansoglou highlighted that innovation and added value was what made shipbuilding competitive. Moreover, he agreed that Europe needed to act because competitors were damaging the EU continuously.

Maya Schwiegershausen-Güth, Head of ITF Flag of Convenience Campaign & Agreements Germany, ETF, said that there was a need for subsidies as European firms were operating in a global market that was highly subsidised. However, she asked whether the added value of subsidies must be analysed as this was taxpayers’ money. In this regard, social and environmental criteria are lacking, such as creating jobs for European citizens. Those receiving subsidies are not even required to respect collective bargaining agreements, for example. She gave the example of LNG subsidies in Germany.

Many such vessels are being built, but they are not being built in Europe and will not be staffed by European seafarers. There should be real societal added value from subsidies, she stressed. A race to the bottom has been started and every Member State is effectively competing against the others to give more subsidies. Subsidies have also fostered overcapacity and increased pressure on port operators to invest in superstructure to accommodate larger vessels. She called on the Commission to review the maritime State-aid guidelines.

Moderator Paris Sansoglou remarked that dredgers built in China cannot be exported because they are considered weapons by the Chinese government. On the maritime guidelines, which were reviewed in 2004, the main idea was to encourage reflagging in Europe. He agreed that there should be more added value for general European society. Moreover, at the current rate, Europe is not producing enough seafarers and this shows that certain elements must be reviewed.

Daniel Hosseus, Managing Director ZDS and Member of the Board of Directors of FEPORT, stated that all the issues discussed also concern terminal operators. Ports as economic units do not exist; they are rather made up of competing companies and ports also compete amongst each other. On top of that, there is global competition, such as the port of Piraeus which has almost fully been bought by a Chinese operator. It should be looked into where this money is coming from, especially given the geopolitical implications.

On commercial operations, there is also a concern about whether there is a level playing field in Europe, especially regarding the issue of State-aid for ports. When vertically integrated terminal operators have the benefit of lower taxes vis-à-vis independent operators, then this is an issue and guidelines must be reviewed in this respect.

Moderator Paris Sansoglou said that most Chinese players were State-owned. He added that he wanted to highlight that all State-aid regulations target EU companies and not companies owned by third countries. This presents a real issue in Europe and State-aid rules should apply to all companies operating in Europe, regardless of who are the owners.

Daniel Hosseus clarified that there was nothing wrong with State owned companies, per se. He said a type of “doping control” was needed to ensure that foreign companies could not compete in the European market unless they were subject to the same rules as European companies.

Bojana Dohms said that the Commission was aware of this issue. The Commission is currently trying to identify how to best address this issue of maritime State Aid Guidelines and a proposal will be forthcoming.

Moderator Paris Sansoglou then asked panellists which recommendations they would give to the Commission.

Barbara Bonvissuto stated that there should be a more collaborative approach when it comes to drawing up recommendations, so that the voice of all stakeholders, including the Commission, Member States and industry, is brought on board.

Reinhard Lüken supported the need for doping control for parties from third countries. He believed that the Commission was less naïve; however, this process must be sped up.

Daniel Hosseus said there was a lot to be done, such as a review of the Consortia Block Exemption Regulation and a review of the upcoming energy framework and a review of the maritime guidelines on State-aid. The overarching objective should be that the international trade system works fairly.

Maya Schwiegershausen-Güth recommended that the current guidelines should be reviewed, as should the Block Exemption Regulation. Moreover, the added value of taxpayers’ money should be ensured.

Laurent Daniel agreed that State-aid policy did contribute to the internal market in Europe. The best scenario would be globally binding rules on State-aid. He also agreed that innovation in the shipbuilding industry must continue. On what policies and subsidies can be put in place, operating subsidies do not help, he reiterated. However, there are good subsidies and good schemes, such as training workers. Many European companies also implement maritime strategies, which can be a good way forward.

Olaf Merk echoed that the maritime State-aid guidelines should be reviewed. He asked what kind of maritime transport system the new Commission wanted to promote the growth of European industries and what is needed to stimulate European industry.

Moderator Paris Sansoglou asked Mr Daniel how China could be forced to follow the rules.

Laurent Daniel replied that, in general, China is following the work from afar and it is very difficult to get them to the table. He stressed that it was a big challenge to make them sign something. There is an ongoing dialogue with China, but it tends to end there without any solid deal in place. There is the SSU in place and the arrangement on export credits. The participants of both are mainly OECD countries. In general, China is reluctant to be part of additional OECD discussions.


Q&As from the audience

Lamia Kerdjoudj-Belkaid asked what the Commission could do to protect European shipbuilding and maritime equipment suppliers from unfair competition, particularly from Asia.

Barbara Bonvissuto replied that a new screening method was put in place for FDI, for example. In addition, several actions have been announced in the China communication, such as a reconsideration of competition rules, if required, such as subsidies to State-owned enterprises. There is also a bilateral dialogue in place and, if worst comes to worst, the option of dispute settlement at the WTO level is still on the table.

Moderator Paris Sansoglou recommended reversing the burden of proof, meaning that companies will have to prove they are not subsidised.

Bojana Dohms agreed that this could be a possible solution.

Lamia Kerdjoudj-Belkaid asked if the EU-Korea FTA could be used to tackle State-aid issues.

Barbara Bonvissuto replied that there was no mechanism for State-aid under this agreement, yet. There is one in place regarding the FTA in Japan. However, Japan has the same issues as Europe regarding Korea and China.

Martin Dorsman, ECSA, shared the concerns as to what China and Korea is doing as they are distorting the markets for European shipbuilders. In addition, he said that there were a lot of challenges for European shipping, such as environmental factors; however, they can be turned into opportunities, such as job creation. On the State-aid guidelines, he welcomed that he had heard how there should be a level playing field between EU and non-EU companies. But for State Aid for shipping, there is no distortion of competition according to him between Member States within Europe. He then underlined that for shipowners, the tonnage tax was delivering for Europe as there are still European shipowners.

Concerning measures for seafarers, 200,000 seafarers are still active and this shows, according to him, that the framework is delivering. Regarding IMO, he emphasised that it was still delivering and had resulted in a large reduction of CO2 emissions. He recommended, contrary to what was said by most of the speakers of the panel that there should be no review of the State-aid guidelines for shipping.

Christophe Tytgat, SEA Europe, said that issues such as the State-aid guidelines have to be looked at in a broader context. The industry must reflect on what it needs from Europe and there should be collaboration with policymakers in this respect. He emphasised that there was a sense of urgency regarding the Commission’s responses and he welcomed this.

Jacob Terling, Maritime Safety, DG MOVE, European Commission, stated it was overlooked as to why the State-aid guidelines came about. This was related to safety. To get subsidies, one had to prove that the vessel was safe and seaworthy. He asked the panel for a comment on strategic importance. Is maritime a transport mode of strategic importance for Europe?

Daniel Hosseus replied that it was so self-evident that no one had mentioned it.

Moderator Paris Sansoglou noted that Pericles is cited as saying that ‘great is the sea nation’.

Reinhard Lüken said that Europe had lost perspective when it comes to the strategic importance of the seas.

August Braakman, Guus Braakman Advocaat, said that one should beware of the Chinese and the gifts they bring. He recommended that the Commission uses the legal framework it has created. In 2017, the qualified effect doctrine was adopted which stated that distortions of competition fall under the scope of EU anti-trust law.

Lamia Kerdjoudj-Belkaid underlined that besides shipping, ports, terminals and other industries of the maritime logistics chain should also be considered as strategic. There must be a more holistic approach and all sectors should be supported. On this morning’s discussion, she asked the Commission representatives whether they thought Europe could remain competitive.

Barbara Bonvissuto said she was confident that industry in the EU could still be competitive. She echoed that a holistic approach was required.

Bojana Dohms supported the industry’s innovative actions. Moreover, State-aid rules are in place to support all industries and should provide a level playing field.

Moderator Paris Sansoglou noted that global legislation was required to ensure a level playing field. Concerning State-aid and the access to the European market, the EU must act in this regard to eliminate the ones who cheat because at this stage, it is not yet the case.



Session 2 - Climate crisis: can "slowbalization" and the "Green Deal" be the solutions?


Moderator Anna Maria Darmanin, Secretary General ETA, took the floor and asked if the lessons learnt from the EU shipbuilding case were relevant for other industries. The overwhelming response, almost 90 percent was: yes, the lessons learnt were relevant. She then asked what should be the key success pillars to be included in the future logistic transport strategy with respect to maritime logistics. She said this feedback would be very helpful.

Keynote speech

Jenny Braat, Director, Danish Maritime, stated that Denmark was strong in areas such as shipping and blue economy. She said her speech would focus on how the green deal could present an opportunity, in addition to whether it would be possible to reduce CO2 emissions while improving the economy. The climate discussion is very topical in Denmark at the moment and the government is enthusiastically looking into the subject. In 2030, CO2 emissions should be reduced by 70 percent in Denmark compared to 1990, according to the latest government stipulations. Denmark has been greening for many years, and this includes the shipbuilding industry and maritime equipment.

The government invited a lot of industry stakeholders to give their input during discussions, and a shipping partnership was also forged. By the end of February, an industry strategy will be produced on how to meet the 70 percent target. She said it was possible to reduce emissions and improve efficiency. Remaining competitive is key to maintaining jobs, she stressed. CO2 emissions can be reduced through changes in behaviour and changes in technology. She stated that a 65 percent reduction was almost possible, based on current capacities. However, 70 percent requires the development of new ways of thinking and new technologies. Moreover, this only concerns Denmark and it must be possible for all countries to reduce their missions.

Industry must come into the fight if the 70 percent goal of emission reductions is to be reached.

The government invited a lot of industry stakeholders to give their input during discussions, and a shipping partnership was also forged. By the end of February, an industry strategy will be produced on how to meet the 70 percent target. She said it was possible to reduce emissions and improve efficiency. Remaining competitive is key to maintaining jobs, she stressed. CO2 emissions can be reduced through changes in behaviour and changes in technology. She stated that a 65 percent reduction was almost possible, based on current capacities. However, 70 percent requires the development of new ways of thinking and new technologies. Moreover, this only concerns Denmark and it must be possible for all countries to reduce their missions.

Danish industry has also looked into how competitiveness can be enhanced while also reaching climate targets. For example, the education and digitalisation questions must be looked into to ensure there is the right know-how and optimisation. In addition, onshore power could be used to power ships when they are in port so they can use less polluting fuels. Europe must investigate how to develop such concepts in tandem with other parts of the world.

In 2018, an international agreement was reached on shipping which set targets at reducing shipping emissions with 40 percent by 2030 and 70 percent by 2050. She highlighted the role of R&D when it comes to reducing emissions. Maersk has since signed up to having 100 percent climate neutral ships by 2030. If targets need to be reached in 2030, then solutions must be achieved by 2027, as it can take up to three years between ordering a ship and having it at sea.

Denmark has been investing heavily in wind turbines for renewable energy and State-aid has been used in this regard. In general, however, it is quite difficult to find a way to create incentives as there is a global market at play. Otherwise, competitiveness will be lost. Today, energy from wind is paying dividends. Denmark is the seventh largest marine industry in the world, and she stated that the industry must remain innovative. She was happy to hear that the new European Commission would put more focus on maritime.

Today, Kappel propellers can reduce energy consumption by 4 percent, which could equate to a saving of 200 million dollars for large shippers. However, sometimes the companies will not invest as it can take too long to recoup the investment. Up to 20 percent (or one billion dollars for large shippers) can also be saved from operational optimisation and this shows that new technologies can make a huge difference.

Furthermore, Ms Braat noted that the current industry turnover is round 92 billion euro. This figure could be much higher if European owned factories outside Europe were included. Moreover, the European share in maritime equipment is almost 50 percent. To ensure that Europe remains competitive, there must be a level playing field in place. Europe must act globally. In addition, when Europe spends money, it must come back to Europe in the form of added value. Public procurement rules should also be looked into.

Better R&D programmes are also required as this is the basis for all industries in Europe to be able to compete globally. Moreover, the same rules must be present in Europe to ensure that there is no internal trade distortion. Europe must fight against unfair competition. A green deal in the right way can make a positive difference, but it must be smart and developed in close collaboration with industry partners. Decarbonisation can go hand in hand with job creation, but the system must support European industry, she concluded.


Panel discussion

Moderator Anna Maria Darmanin said that her take away from the keynote speech was the importance of partnership. On the green deal, she noted that it will soon be unveiled by the Commission. The title of this panel also contains ‘slowbalisation’. Some economists are saying that the world is facing this phenomenon. A slow period could be coming. Trade, as a share of GDP, has been slowing, for example. While this could be alarming news, this could be good news regarding the climate crisis. Addressing Mr Lewis, she asked what struck him most from the presentation.

Alan Lewis, Technical Development Director, GLEC-Smart Freight Center, said there was almost a competition in the UK regarding who can promise the most ambitious greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction programme. A reduction of 70 percent of total emissions within an economy means that transport must make a contribution. There are still predictions regarding increases for freight transport.

As such, it is a massive challenge to reduce emissions. Shipping is a very efficient mode with respect to emissions intensity. On solutions, everyone wants to look at technology and fuel. There must be modal shipping and ports can play a central role in this. The question is how to make the system more efficient. Systems and operational thinking will be key to this.

Moderator Anna Maria Darmanin agreed that politicians across Europe were now taking up the issue.

Charles Feld, Institutional Policy Manager, CMA CGM Group, echoed that there was a lot of momentum gathering behind decarbonisation and this can be seen in the Commission’s planned green deal. In the beginning of December, President Macron will attend the annual maritime meeting (Assises de l’Economie Maritime) in Montpellier and he expected there to be far reaching announcements regarding ambitious targets.

He stated that his organisation is focussed on moving fast on decarbonisation both on sea and on land and CO2 emissions have greatly reduced over the last few years, with a further 30 percent reduction planned by 2025.

Moderator Anna Maria Darmanin agreed that there was momentum in place. She then asked Mr Tucker for his perspective.

Pyers Tucker, Strategy Development Manager, Hapag Lloyd, said his concern is that emissions were not thought about for a long time in the shipping sector and he welcomed that it was now being considered. What he was struggling with was how exactly decarbonisation could be completely achieved. A strong consensus has built up that there has to be clean electricity in the future. He questioned where all this would come from. Much will come from solar and wind. In addition, there is nuclear. On the solar side, if one percent of the Saudi desert was covered with solar panels, there would be enough to power the shipping industry. If half the Saudi desert were covered, all the planet’s energy needs could be met.

He said he did not buy into the ‘slowbalisation’ theory. Rather, change will come rapidly when it comes to renewables. Renewables are becoming more attractive to investors. Concerning nuclear, back in the 1950s and 1960s, there were two types of nuclear power generation: uranium based and thorium.

Uranium based is only about 5 percent efficient, whereas thorium is about 95 percent efficient. With the former, waste is left over which is also called weapons grade plutonium. Uranium was opted for because the waste could then be used for nuclear warheads. As such, going back to thorium, which cannot melt down and is a lot safer, could be a real option, especially as it is so much more efficient than uranium-based energy.

The Americans, Chinese, Indians and Dutch are all currently investing in thorium plants. The three main liquids which could be used are ammonia, hydrogen and methanol regarding power produced from thorium plants that could propel ships. However, getting to a decarbonised future requires following up on such concepts. It remains unknown which are the commercially viable and commercially scalable solutions. Massive investments will be needed to build the factories and plants which can produce this energy that can then propel the ships.

Moderator Anna Maria Darmanin said the big question was which clean fuel should be invested in. She then asked Mr Musolino for his takeaways.

Pino Musolino, President of the Port of Venice, agreed that there needed to be a new way of thinking and new technology. On the former, many conferences he had attended had only discussed decarbonisation as if that was all that was required. He stressed that the land available had to be used correctly. For example, he asked if building bigger and bigger ships was a sustainable way forward.

He noted that, recently in Denmark, two cities decided to shut down ports because of the social impact they were having, not because they were not profitable. He questioned whether such investments were feasible in the long term for the communities they serve, especially as much development is being funded by public money. The whole, complex system must be thought of together, particularly from a sustainability and environmental perspective.

Jenny Braat agreed that there was momentum now; however, it is not clear which solutions should be chosen. The issues at stake cannot be solved by one country alone and there must be collaboration across Europe. Future business models are certainly a central question. Seaborne traffic is one of the cleanest modes of transportation and sea traffic will increase as time goes by and as the population grows. As such, solutions must be found on a global scale. She said she did not believe that solar cells would be the future driver, and clean fuel must be found. Moreover, the right infrastructure must be in place in ports to allow ships to refuel.

Faig Abbasov, Shipping Programme Manager, T&E, said that the new green deal was the new big thing in Europe. He noted with surprise that respondents this morning had cited climate change as the biggest challenge facing the industry. The European green deal is the result of popular demand to put climate change at the heart of policies over the next five years. He highlighted that there must be ambition. Decarbonisation must mean decarbonisation of the entire economy to reach the Paris agreement goals. The climate crisis is serious enough to warrant action at all levels of society. Not a single organisation or institution can solve this issue.

Furthermore, the green deal also means justice and fairness. As part of the green deal, emissions will have to reduce by up to 55 percent by 2030, which equates to 820 million tonnes of CO2, the same amount as shipping globally. How can everyone else be expected to make a serious effort if shipping does not also have to make a serious effort? Finally, the green deal is also an opportunity, Mr Abbasov underlined. One example concerns battery cars, which existed as a possibility since the 1990s. It remained on the fringes until California forced actors to start producing battery powered cars and this really brought the technology to the forefront.

Moderator Anna Maria Darmanin agreed that the green new deal should also be viewed as an opportunity and not only as a burden. She then gave the floor to Mr Hirt.

Gerald Hirt, CEO, Hamburg Vessel Coordination Center (HVCC), said he would like to turn the discussion to the operations of the vessels. Efficient vessel coordination and port collaboration are currently in focus. For example, the IMO has called for the industry to consider and analyse the use of speed optimisation and speed reduction as a measure. The port of Hamburg collaborates closely with other ports, such as Rotterdam, who are also competitors. Competitors operating within the port also teamed up to coordinate feeder vessels, for example, and a feeder logistic centre was set up.

For example, more than 4,000 feeder/barge terminal calls were coordinated last year alone, in addition to 3,000 passage plans being distributed. HVCC asked many partners to share planning data under this operational scheme. This gives many optimisation advantages, such as allowing for identification of knock-on effects in good time to find optimal operational traffic solutions. The best planning can be done with the right information, he underlined.

This port collaboration platform allows for data received to be aggregated there, to then be analysed by a team operating 24/7. Information is then provided via dashboards and interfaces to partners. He showed an example of a passage which contained key information, such as vessel name, times, tidal forecasts and outbound traffic data for the river Elbe. This allows for coordination of inbound and outbound vessels.

HVCC is discussing this process with many ports in an attempt to bring more of them on board. The traditional information process sometimes takes too long and this is why the HVCC promoted this project. HVCC is currently working on using real time updates for arrival times and this is currently being tested. Last year, approximately 2,000 vessel hours were saved within the port of Hamburg alone. Moreover, 66 tonnes of CO2 emission savings can be attained for large vessels through this optimised mechanism.

Moderator Anna Maria Darmanin said this was a clear example of how different sectors could share data and collaborate for the benefit of all involved. She asked Mr Feld what his company had done to decarbonise. Why has your company specifically invested in LNG?

Charles Feld, regarding the size of ships, noted that 58 percent of CMA CGM’s fleet was less than 10,000 TEUs and there was a balance in this regard. On decarbonisation, his company was testing a number of solutions, such as biofuels. Moreover, they are very involved in a number of collective groups that are thinking about the next solution.

Management has decided to heavily invest in LNG as a short-medium term solution as it considerably reduces fine particles such as sulphur and dioxide and also allows for lower CO2 emissions. By 2020, 20 ships will be equipped with this technology. Their strategy also aims at having a positive impact on landside actors.

In addition, there are a number of innovations on the ships, such as on the hull and with regards to waste management. Small streams create mighty rivers and collective action is needed to address current issues. CMA CGM Group is also involved in ongoing projects at the European level, such as developing LNG at the port of Dunkerque. Regarding the arctic route, he said his company decided not to use this route and this was a clear stance on the importance of safeguarding biodiversity there. The Russian government is setting up a publicly owned container company to develop this route.

Moderator Anna Maria Darmanin asked Mr Tucker how his company was working towards decarbonisation.

Pyers Tucker stated that his organisation was installing some scrubbers on some ships, but these are a short-term solution. On LNG, it is much better to burn this than dirty fuel oil. LNG does not have a long-term future. However, synthetic, clean energy can be created. Yet, this depends on synthetic LNG being available on a competitively viable scale. Moreover, there is also the idea to connect the ship to land-based electricity to cut emissions, in a process called cold ironing. He repeated that the technology is largely know and exists, but what is needed is largescale investment to see what is commercially viable.

Moderator Anna Maria Darmanin noted that many people had taken to the street to protest. She asked Mr Musolino what his message was to policymakers in this regard.

Pino Musolino said that the definition of madness was doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result. Throughout the summer, many ports in Europe faced increasing pressure from the population. Port owners should talk together about what can be done. The idea is to achieve a more considerate attitude towards locals. It is not only a question of Co2 pollution, but there is also noise pollution and light pollution from the vessels, for example.

On cold ironing, on average, a cruise vessel demands 25 megawatts of electricity per day; this would mean that Venice would have the choice to either power vessels or the city. It is key to develop clean energy. However, only 30 percent of seaborne vessels are equipped to be plugged in and effort is required from both sides in this regard. There cannot be a one size fits all solution, he stressed. The industry also needs to come up with features that can allow for a sustainable cruise industry for the future. For example, the business model that has served Europe for the last 20 years cannot be the same model that serves Europe over the next 20 years.

Moderator Anna Maria Darmanin asked Mr Abassov whether industry needs good support to have good solutions.

Faig Abbasov replied that the ultimate goal had to be decarbonisation. Behavioural change does not come on its own. It is usually the result of new rules. New technologies will be disruptive and will change how ships operate in the future. Legal obligations must be created to ensure new technologies are used.

Moderator Anna Maria Darmanin asked the panellists to sum up their key messages to the Commission regarding the green deal.

Charles Feld said that his organisation was willing to work hand in hand on the green deal. On the combined transport directive, he said that his company was always very willing to engage on this issue to develop modal solutions.

Pyers Tucker stressed that the Commission must move fast, rather than waiting for the perfect solutions before making changes. Furthermore, target alignment is required so that businesses have certainty. In addition, a level playing field is needed and there must be monitoring of compliance.

Pino Musolino called for massive funding to go into R&D and into training for professionals. There must also be a rebalancing to ensure there is adequate investment into maritime decarbonisation and virtuous behaviour should be incentivised.

Gerald Hirt said there should be programmes that are easy to administrate so that there is simple access to funds.

Faig Abbasov stressed that also shipping must pay for the CO2 emissions it generates. There must also be positive measures to drive new technologies. Moreover, measures must apply to all ships and there must be a level playing field in this respect.

Alan Lewis said he would include GHGs in any policy thinking. There must be clear reporting from across the supply chain regarding emissions to ensure there is a level playing field.


Q&As from the audience

Christophe Tytgat, SEA Europe, agreed that the polluter should pay, and that the payment should go in a pot to be invested back into the industry. Although technologies are there, a lot remains to be done before solutions can be rolled out and legislators must be careful not to impose impossible conditions on operators either.

Faig Abbasov noted that targets for 2030 must be imposed now so that there is the signal for the industry to start deploying new technology immediately. Supply always follows demand and there must be demand in place for these new technologies to be used. This was seen in the case of more efficient light bulbs which would not have replaced the less efficient model had it not been for the new rules put in place.

Moderator Anna Maria Darmanin noted that perhaps legislators do not always know the best way forward and this was why cooperation across the board was required.



Session 3 - Jobs of the future: will robots really replace humans in maritime logistics chains?


Keynote speech

Tiago Fonseca, Technical Officer, World Maritime University (WMU) said that he had mainly been involved in research on the future of work. This year, the WMU produced a report on automation technology employment. The technological trends analysed can be broken down into four clusters: automation, maintenance, new interfaces and new services.

For maritime, he noted that there will be increased technological complexity, such as the use of drones, including underwater inspection drones. The WMU research has identified six main factors that can accelerate or delay the adoption of technology. For example, does this technology make sense for the business, and will there be economic benefits? Moreover, regulation can often differ between Member States when it comes to automation and new technology. Social acceptance also changes from country to country. In addition, knowledge and skills must be considered. In some parts of the world, it is difficult to implement digital solutions because the skills do not exist. In other countries such as Japan, they are actively encouraging knowledge in the field of automation to increase efficiencies.

Concerning the current state of play of port technology, he noted that many technologies, such as automation in cranes, have been used for the last 20 years. What has been growing on the soft side, such as automated gates and automated decision making. In 20 years’ time there will be more automated ports using blockchain technology, for example.

On the future of work, he remarked how difficult it is to find port workers, such as warehouse workers. He noted that, while automation could replace a lot of tasks, some humans will always be required to oversee tasks. Most of the workforce falls into the middle skill category. Over the last 20 years, there has been a general decline in the number of medium skilled jobs and the labour market is polarising into high-skilled and low-skilled jobs. He noted that this was a threat to society as a whole and is not only a problem in the transport sector. Many tasks in the industry will be increasingly automated, such as in the area of crane operations.

The Qingdao port came into operation two years ago and is a fully automated container terminal. This port can handle some of the biggest ships in the world and there has been a labour reduction of 85 percent compared to similar ports. However, there are costs to automation, such as lack of flexibility, productivity, there is a longer payback time needed and there is increased cyber-risk. Furthermore, there is the social costs aspect and some trade unions and local communities have been fighting such automated ports.

Regarding smart supply chains, he stated that there was much room for improvement. People must also be adequately trained for these jobs of the future and people have to be upskilled. In addition, young people should be attracted and the industry should be made more gender balanced. The big bang technology has arrived and now the question is how to use it. There must be awareness raising about its implications. Also a dialogue should be undertaken between stakeholders in global transport. Moreover, strategies and policies are needed to address the ramifications of further automation and the divides between nations and people must be minimised. Finally, identifying future competencies’ and skills’ requirements will be key to harness the possibilities of new technology.


Panel discussion

Moderator Rachael White, CEO Next Level Info, noted that the pace of change seemed to accelerate. To a certain extent, robots will replace humans, but the question is where the jobs will be next. Ms White asked panellists for their feedback on the presentation.

Robert Hengster, Head of Maritime Sector, ver.di, stated that social partnership was needed and everyone needs to be moving in the same direction. He highlighted the importance of collective agreements which can be an advantage for both employers and employees. Every step of automation is being discussed and outcomes are being analysed. He said it was not clear how many jobs would be lost on one side and created on the other. He called for an open exchange under social partnership. Currently, his organisation is involved in 50 automation projects.

Moderator Rachael White said there was also the fear factor when it comes to change and that it had to be acknowledged that there were legitimate concerns. She asked Ms Dust for her comments, especially when it comes to gender.

Ellen Dust, Policy Officer, DG Move, remarked that there was a difficulty in attracting more women into this field. There will be fierce competition among sectors for the best talent as there is increased automation. Regarding advertising vacancies, there have been studies which show that the way a vacancy is formulated can impact who applies for the position.

Istvan Vanyalos, Policy Officer, DG EMPL, said that certain challenges presented in the sector are the same challenges seen across the entire labour market. There are issues relating to automation, in addition to challenges stemming from climate change and globalisation, for example. There is general agreement that upskilling is required. There is a big issue with the pace of the change and there is not enough information available in this regard. In recent years, the general opinion has been shifting from an alarmist one to a more balanced one. Some jobs will be replaced, but not all of them.

Many future jobs will be affected, but the OECD study is generally accepted now and sets out that around 12 percent of jobs will be lost. The focus must be now on the pace and preventive policies are required to predict sectors and regions which will be most impacted. There are certain examples where companies announce they will lay off people in advance and social partners can step in to assist with upskilling. Moreover, there are more and more examples where companies are trying to retrain people as it can cost more to lay off people and then hire new staff later on.

Moderator Rachael White noted that automation can both result in jobs being lost and jobs being created. On difficult and dangerous jobs in the maritime sector, she asked if these could be done by automation. She then gave the floor to Mr Stiehler.

Stephan Stiehler, Vice President ICHCA Technical Committee and Senior Consultant Stiehler Consulting, stated that his company had developed interfacing with humans and making machines and automation safer. They looked into what technologies existed in the marketplace and which roles are the most dirty and dangerous. He said it was difficult to find staff for certain jobs, such as crane drivers. When automation is discussed, there should be a move away from the ‘dirty’ part to a cleaner office, for example.

Technology can allow for more automation and safer workplaces. Automation can assist people and greatly improve health and safety. Staff must also be trained to concentrate for up to eight hours at a time when operating cranes, and interfaces can assist in this regard. Even when automation is introduced, physical presence is still required to check if everything is running smoothly.

Moderator Rachael White agreed on the importance of best practices to make workplaces safer through the introduction of new technologies. The moderator asked Mr Wenzel about the TIC 4.0 initiative.

Boris Wenzel, Managing Director Terminal Link and Chairman of TIC 4.0, questioned why there was not much automation in terminals. Usually, productivity is not higher in automated terminals, although there are a few exceptions to this, such as Barcelona. One reason they do not perform so well is that standards are lacking in the industry. For example, there is no standard definition of what a container move is. In addition, data communication should also follow a standard approach. It is extremely expensive to automate, and it is also extremely risky. In addition, there are strong unions in the port sector which do a good job at protecting their interests.

Eight days ago, TIC 4.0 was finally registered, although work commenced back in 2018. Creating standards in any industry is a huge task. There are 14 founding members, such as Cargotec and PSA, and five are in the process of joining. The target is to reach 30 members in 2020. This showed that there is a realisation in the industry that now it is time to move forward. The whole industry basically woke up at the same time and realised that standards had to be programmed.

Moderator Rachael White opened the floor to questions from the audience.

Lamia Kerdjoudj-Belkaid noted that the title of the session was provocative. She asked Mr Hengster whether the trust building process was improving and if workers acknowledged that this was a huge challenge for all the involved parties.

Robert Hengster answered that their approach was to work openly and with transparency. He cited an Australian approach that had worked in a contrary way and said that this had served to undermine trust and led to a strong backlash against automation. Moreover, it is not the shipowners that are paying for the infrastructure and there should be social benefit. There must be an open discussion about the treatment of seafarers, such as in the case of lashings. Often, these dangerous jobs are done by Philippine and Indian mariners when approaching the Montreal harbour in Canada and this should be addressed and discussed openly. Every day, jobs are being lost to automation and he stressed the importance of bringing employees and unions on board under a social partnership.

Boris Wenzel believed that automation programmes had to be done through an open book dialogue with social partners. As the standards are being worked on, the social factor is also being borne in mind. Often, social partners are asking when semi-automation is going to happen as, for example, their workers are getting old. The obstacle to automation for ports is also that automation does not suddenly double or triple output, like in other industries.

Wolfgang Lemacher, World Economic Forum, asked who should take on the task and responsibility of upskilling thousands or even millions of people.

Stephan Stiehler replied that many crane drivers had to leave mid-career due to health issues, such as bad backs. Sick leave costs were tremendous, and this led his company to think about how the job could be made safer and more attractive. Now, the crane driver is changed six times per day on some cranes. He said that his company built its own training simulator to upskill employees.

Ellen Dust said that the Commission had kicked off a study on managing the transition. The Commission will engage in a dialogue with transport stakeholders about what measures are already in place. At EU level, the lack of digital skills is high on the agenda and there is a digital skills programme. Of course, these programmes cannot replace basic education.

Istvan Vanyalos noted that the European Social Fund was investing in training an education. A joint effort from stakeholders is required to roll out upskilling programmes. A big problem with skills is that they take time to pick up and programmes cost money.

Robert Hengster said that there should be open book training skills. The industry will have to pay for training courses.

Boris Wenzel stated that future trends must be taken into account. Management of the terminal should go hand in hand with better data analysis, for example. This means that data analysts are required and there are skills that, even in the open market, are hard to find today. Here there is a role for the EU to have funding programmes.

Moderator Rachael White said that the discussion covered dialogue, trust and fostering ongoing learning. With that, she closed the session and gave the floor to Ms Kerdjoudj-Belkaid.


Wrap up

Lamia Kerdjoudj-Belkaid thanked all speakers, guests, moderators and colleagues. A big bang is neither catastrophic nor an end in and of itself, but a moment when energy aggregates to form a new structure. Do policy makers need to move in response to a potential big bang? Speakers made it clear today that the answer is yes. FEPORT believes in the “coalition of the willing” to collectively raise awareness about the strategic importance of the maritime cluster.

Moreover, it is also a pity that, today in the EU, there are no container ships being built here anymore. However, it would be worse to accept this as a fact of life and this could be a possibility again in the future. On multilateral instruments, participants made it clear that there are real challenges for EU shipbuilding, especially because of the complexity of filing a complaint in the WTO framework, and it is important for the EU to revisit current instruments and conceive of additional tools to address market distortions in Europe, especially those resulting from the practices of third country actors.

After today’s conference, it is now clearer why operational aid was stopped in in the 1990s and there should be an inclusive strategy for all sectors of the industry. Furthermore, EU shipping should be supported, as should EU port stakeholders, EU shipyards, marine equipment manufacturing, EU dredging and EU shipping stakeholders. The maritime sector as a whole should be supported, she stressed. Support also means providing a level playing field and there must be fair competition. She called upon the new Commission to ensure consistency and equality of treatment throughout the maritime sector.

Session two showed that slowbalisation may not necessarily be seen in the future. Early movers for alternative fuels did not get the necessary support and legal certainty and more R&D is needed for the sector. Maritime industries believe that the green deal can be an opportunity if it is elaborated with them. All stakeholders must be mobilised and cooperation, such as data-sharing, data analytics and joint initiatives, will be crucial if emissions are to be reduced. Port stakeholders alone cannot face the pressure of cities complaining about shipping emissions.

Concerning the last session, the title was provocative, but reflected current fears. Artificial intelligence is already in place and robots will certainly ensure some tasks that are done today by human beings, but does this mean that human creativity will not be needed anymore? Shouldn’t we collectively think about the reskilling, conversion, job mobility and other solutions? Industries will have to make a huge effort to reskill and upskill and the battle can be won only if employers and employees join forces.



Closing speech

Magda Kopczynska, Director Waterborne Transport, DG Move, congratulated FEPORT on its 25th anniversary. The European Commission undergoes something of a big bang itself every five years. There is a mix of continuity and disruption when each Commission changes. On the outcome of the vote in the European parliamentary elections, the message regarding the need to address climate change was made clear by citizens, and this is why the new Commission is engaging in a new green deal. All sectors of industry will have to deal with the impacts of climate change. The political guidelines contain a lot of what will be seen in the final green deal plan when it is unveiled.

Shipping is unique because of its particularly international focus and the Commission is going to analyse what it can do to foster a level playing field at both the European and global level. The challenges stemming from climate change must be considered as opportunities. The headline figure is that the emissions target for 2030 should be decreased to 50 percent. This poses a difficult challenge as society wants more transport; but this transport must be clean. Digitalisation will continue to be a big challenge and Europe must be kept at the forefront of digitalisation advances. Moreover, attaining digital independence for Europe will be critical. There must also be a level playing field concerning European companies and companies from third countries, she underlined.

In addition, the Commission will be working on a comprehensive strategy for sustainable and smart mobility. Stakeholders will have the possibility to give their input in this regard. This strategy should be in place for the next 10 years and this poses real challenges given the rate of change.

The Commission will also keep working on the European maritime single window and this will allow for greater harmonisation for data-sharing. Optimisation of data exchanges will be further worked on by the new Commission. Information sharing going outside the transport mode will be looked into under the new strategy as increasing exchanges of data increases efficiency, optimises the supply chain and enhances environmental performance, for example. The Commission will also work with international organisations to ensure that similar data approaches are adopted on a global level. Data-sharing sounds obvious and simple but getting agreement from partners around the table is a very complicated act. President von der Leyen stressed the need to change from a need to know to a need to share basis. Furthermore, cyber-security will have to be stepped up to take account of risks. She called for industry support to ensure that the Commission’s proposed budget for the next MFF will not be decreased.

In addition, the Commission will look into the revision of the TEN-T and will continue to work on the fuel quality directive framework requirements. There will also be a review of industrial policy and a horizontal analysis will be undertaken in this regard. In terms of maritime technologies, Europe has lost some parts of shipbuilding, but not all. The big challenge is to ensure that Europe keeps the shipbuilding sectors that it still has. On the need to support the social dimension, the Commission will look into what needs to be done in terms of upgrading skills to ensure that the skills needed for the 21st century are there. The Commission will continue to push for both parties, workers and employers, to come to the table to discuss such matters.

On the topic of EU State-aid, she underlined that the instruments do not yet allow for the Commission to match what is happening in third countries. There is a clear recognition that the EU must be stronger and ensure a level playing field. The EU will continue to push for discussion at the global level and, in addition, the Commission, is finalising the framework for third country investments.

Regarding the idea of a big bang, she hoped that this would not be seen as if this could be destructive. She underlined that the EU would continue to support the maritime industry, in a way which goes beyond just financial instruments. Finally, Ms Kopczynska welcomed the statement made earlier that the Commission should move fast and not wait for the perfect solution before taking action.




Mr Marc Lachièze-Rey, Astrophysicist specialized in “Big Bang” 

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3


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Photo gallery of the Conference here.