EU Shipping Law

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European Union law relating to shipbuilding

A. Introduction

Purpose of this chapter

22.001 The purpose of this chapter is to examine the European Union (“EU”) law relating to shipbuilding.1 In some ways, it is a narrow topic with only four legislative instruments but, in other ways, it is an extremely important topic because of the strategic significance of shipbuilding and the associated technologies for the EU. 22.002 The four legislative instruments are: (a) Regulation 2016/1035 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2016 on protection against injurious pricing of vessels;2 (b) Commission Decision 98/157of 5 November 1997 concerning aid Spain proposed to grant to Astilleros Zamacona SA in respect of five tugboats;3 (c) Commission Decision 92/569 of 31 July 1992 concerning proposed aid by Germany to the Chinese shipping company Cosco for the construction of container vessels;4 and (d) Council Resolution of 19 September 1978 on the reorganisation of the shipbuilding industry.5 Ultimately, only three of those four are legally binding (the last is a non-legally binding resolution) and of the three legally binding measures, only one is of general application as two are specific and targeted. 22.003 The apparent paucity of legislation is somewhat deceptive because there has been a string of measures spanning many years in the area of shipbuilding. These measures (mainly directives) were designed to stem the demise of the shipbuilding sector in the EU. It has been quite a struggle for the European shipyards to compete with yards elsewhere in the world (particularly in Asia). Many of the Asian yards benefited from lower costs and subsidies (e.g. cheaper steel than would be available in Europe). Ultimately, in so far as European yards survived (and some even prospered), it was because of focusing on technologically advanced products or specialist type vessels (e.g. ferries and cruise liners).

Overview of shipbuilding in the EU

22.004 The European Commission wrote in 2018:

“The shipbuilding industry deals with the production of larger (mainly seagoing) vessels intended for the merchant fleet (cargo or passenger transport), the off-shore energy industry or

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military purposes. It also includes products and services supplied for the building, conversion, and maintenance of these ships. The European Commission promotes the industry’s development and addresses competitiveness issues it faces.

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