The position of Europe in the maritime technology industry as whole is only a virtual one, whilst there is no clear targeted European shipbuilding policy in place, to offer an integrated approach to the international competition, according to a new study developed by BALance Technology Consulting and funded by the European Commission.
Namely, the report shows that, with a calculated value of EUR 112.5 billion, the EU 28 countries represent 23.3% of the global production value for maritime technology of EUR 482,5 billion (annual average for 2010- 2014). The position is even stronger, if Norway and Turkey are added to the EU 28 group.
As individual nations, Germany follow Korea, China, USA and Japan in 5th position followed by Norway in 6th. United Kingdom, Italy and France follow in 8th, 9th and 10th position respectively.
In addition, during 2015-2016, the ordering of commodity ships and offshore vessels has seen a dramatic reduction, which has affected the big shipbuilding nations in Asia, in particular, and put large parts of their industry at stake. Europe, in contrast to the global competition, in the last three years has moved into a more comfortable position when looking at the value of their shipbuilding orderbook, because of its concentration on special high-tech and high value ships.
Although the European equipment industry benefits from this situation in Europe, they however also suffer from a decreasing demand from the Far East and other parts of the world, as a result of the lack of orders in these regions.
“In comparison to the Asian competition with their targeted national shipbuilding strategies in place, the individual European shipbuilding nations seem to be too small and weak to counter these. It is therefore an utmost priority that Europe’s policy, supports and maintains their marine industries’ competitive advantage in high-tech shipbuilding, systems and component manufacture and sophisticated service provision,” the report notes.
In this context, it is felt that currently there is more ‘a patchwork’ of differing political programmes and strategies for innovation, research, clusters, financing etc. in the EU (and individual Member States), rather than a strong and visible joint EU maritime/shipbuilding policy. This integrated approach is seen as the key to the industry’s survival.
Therefore the study recommends deploying an overall, holistic and coherent industrial strategy specifically designed for the maritime technology industry, accompanied by truly integrated maritime policies aimed at supporting industrial growth by concrete measures, targeting the following four points:
- New stimulus for jobs, growth and investment – To enable the maritime supply chain to improve the co-operation and integration with a specific focus on SMEs. To make better use of the common EU budget and of EU financial instruments, such as the European Investment Bank (EIB), to employ those public funds available at EU level to stimulate private investment in the real maritime economy.
- A connected digital single market – To enable maritime industries to participate in the digitization era, maritime infrastructures need to be established covering the Economic Exclusive Zones (EEZ) of the EU Member States and also to empower networks addressing the “Internet-of-Things” of the industrial supply chains.
- A resilient energy union with a forward-looking climate change policy – To facilitate maritime renewable energy strategies, with their high potential to contribute to the reform of the new European Energy Union, and thereby also creating demand for new and innovative products in the shipbuilding supply chain.
- A deeper and fairer internal market with a strengthened industrial base – To maintain and reinforce a strong and high-performing maritime industrial base for our internal market. To contribute to the “re-industrialization” of Europe and maintain global leadership in strategic sectors.