The European Commission this week announced a series of measures aimed at greening the maritime transport sector to boost its global competitiveness.
The package on the future of maritime transport, presented by the EU executive on 21 January, outlines a ten-year policy strategy (2009-2018) to promote safe, secure, clean and efficient shipping, as well as plans to remove barriers for the European maritime transport sector.
“Times are changing, and the purpose is to apply existing rules for road transport to transport by sea. The aim is to increase activity in this sector, while improving efficiency and competitiveness, thus contributing to improvements for the environment,” said Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani, presenting the proposal.
The action plan includes a number of rules aimed at reducing the administrative burden imposed on shipping companies by EU and national regulations. Under the proposals, customs procedures will be simplified and inspections better coordinated to reduce delays related to plant and animal checks.
Brussels expects a barrier-free European maritime transport area to help reduce demand for road haulage and slash overall freight forwarding costs.
The proposed measures are expected to make maritime transport a more attractive option and boost competitiveness and employment, leading to more balanced use of all transport modes and ‘greening’ the sector.
Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Commissioner Joe Borg described the strategy as the “cornerstone” of the EU’s integrated maritime policy, which aims to boost competitiveness, sustainable growth and employment across the maritime industry in Europe.
Over 80% of world trade takes place on the ocean, making maritime transport “the backbone of international trade,” according to the Commission, which insisted that shipping and related services are key to helping European companies to compete globally.