EU Shipping Law

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European Union law relating to ship repair

European Union law relating to ship repair

23.001 This is a very short chapter which is designed to encompass in a single chapter pointers to other chapters as they relate to the topic of ship repair. 23.002 There has not been very much European Union (“EU”) law developed relating specifically to the topic of ship repair but there are various aspects of EU shipping law which impinge on the topic so it useful to bring the various strands together and act as a cross-reference to other topics. 23.003 If the ship repair is funded, directly or indirectly, by a Member State then issues of State aid law may arise. It would therefore be useful to have regard to . 23.004 There can be environmental law aspects to ship repair and therefore regard should be had to –21 as well as other aspects of the issue which are also considered in other chapters. 23.005 In so far as the ship repair amounts to shipbuilding then the previous chapter, , would be relevant. 23.006 If there is any ship dismantling or ship recycling then regard should be had to the next chapter, namely, . 23.007 Safety is always an issue in regard to ship repair and it is covered in various chapters in this book. 23.008 Before concluding, it is useful to consider the comments of the European Economic and Social Committee (“EESC”) in its own-initiative 2013 opinion entitled: “The European ship repair and conversion sector: a resilient industry, competitive in the world and committed to EU policies for sustainable growth”:1
  • 1.1 The ship maintenance, repair and conversion sector (SMRC) is strategically important to Europe and its sustainable development, since it plays a key role in areas such as environmental protection, transport, security and energy efficiency.
  • 1.2 The EESC believes that, on account of its advanced technical know-how, the current network of SMRC shipyards in the EU is well prepared and capable of meeting the growing demand for sustainable development, technology, innovation, workers’ skills and shipyard equipment.
  • 1.3 According to the Committee, opportunities for the sector are emerging despite the difficult economic climate. These relate to the enlargement of the world fleet and the increasing proportion of older ships, and in particular to the growing demand for conversion and modernisation due to environmental, energy and climate requirements. In the immediate term, this involves the growing demand for energy-efficient vessels, the operation and development of offshore wind energy facilities and extraction of natural resources from the sea.

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    1.4 In the medium to long term, the opening up of Arctic sea routes and deep-sea mining provide further opportunities for the sector.
  • 1.5 The Committee points out that despite these promising opportunities, the on-going crisis means that shipowners and SMRC shipyards are still facing financing bottlenecks, for example, access to credit and thus difficult business conditions for companies. A further challenge is maintaining a critical mass for the sector.
  • 1.6 In order to address this, the SMRC sub-sector should work closely with the maritime value chain with the aim of raising its profile and obtaining support from the EU, the Member States and regions, given the existence of ever greater competition from third countries.
    • 1.6.1 The Committee believes that the following will be beneficial and useful for this sector:
      • – A broader and more active role for the EIB [European Investment Bank] in the sector within the framework of EIB objectives to support European industrial policy: this also concerns SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] from the SMRC sector, where the EIB and the EIF [European Investment Fund] have significant indirect scope for action;
      • – The organisation of workshops with the participation of the EIB, the European Commission and industry stakeholders (these workshops are proposed in the LeaderSHIP 2020 initiative), and measures to explore EIB financing opportunities;
      • – The possible use of the Europe 2020 Project Bond Initiative in areas relating to transport and energy; the allocation of regional funding (including funding relating to ‘smart specialisation’) to the maritime sector; decision by the Commission – which must be taken by the end of 2013 – on extending the framework on authorised State aid for the shipbuilding sector until the proposal and entry into force of new rules on both the general RDI [Research, Development and Innovation] framework and regional aid, which taken together should play the role of the current framework in future; steps should be taken to ensure that the expiry of the framework and its replacement with new rules does not produce new financial bottlenecks and every effort should be made to compensate the SMRC sector for the economic damage this may cause;
      • – The prioritisation of EU RDI funding under Horizon 2020 (which is to be a continuation of the Waterborne technology platform) for focused maritime projects with demonstration elements and innovation potential (including PPP [Public Private Partnership] for research purposes).
  • 1.7 The EESC points out that although workers in the EU’s SMRC sector have adequate skills, they should be continually assessed and updated. These measures should be supported as a matter of priority, for example within the framework of the LeaderSHIP 2020 initiative. There is a real risk of a loss of critical mass in this sector, given the ageing skilled workforce.
  • 1.8 According to the EESC, generating interest in the sector among new and younger workers should be a main concern and this should be linked to measures aimed at improving the sector’s image. This should be associated with financial support for schools and universities with specialisations covering SMRC.
  • 1.9 The Committee believes that the Commission, together with the social partners and other stakeholders (using the concept of the sector council on skills, for example), should draw up a plan for the continual adaptation of skills to the new tasks of the SMRC sector, covering among other things off-shore facilities (platforms, wind farms, etc.), harbours, new technical floating units, facilities and ships for LNG bunkering, etc. This requires monitoring of skills, the permanent advancement of training and promotion of mobility within Europe.

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    1.10 A comprehensive set of principles and rules (environmental protection, security, ports, rules on transport, assembly, recycling) has a crucial impact on the way in which the sector functions and on demand for its services. In light of this, the EESC believes that the SMRC and newbuilding industry should carry out frequent and systematic consultations together with EMSA [European Maritime Safety Agency], with a view to ensuring that ships are safer and more environmentally-friendly and that they are monitored effectively.
  • 1.11 According to the EESC, the collection of new rules and requirements relating to advanced technologies should not be regarded as harmful or problematic for the sector, but rather as an opportunity. In this regard, SMRC and newbuilding yards and the steel manufacturing sector should work together more closely to achieve better results. The Committee calls for DG MOVE [Directorate General for Mobility and Transport] to take into account the SMRC sector in its strategic policy developments (including on the matter of short-sea shipping).

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