New LeaderSHIP 2020 strategy to increase the competitiveness of European maritime technology

The European Commission presented a strategy aimed at increasing the competitiveness of European maritime technology. The LeaderSHIP 2020 strategy's recommendations range from the wider use of EU instruments to foster new skills, competence and qualifications, to Public Private Partnerships for new maritime research, EIB funding opportunities and smart specialisation strategies in regional policy.

The new LeaderSHIP 2020 strategy presented by the European Commission on the 20 of February provides a series of recommendations for the short and medium term, to support sustainable growth, high value jobs and address the societal challenges that the shipbuilding and maritime industry currently faces. The European Commission stressed that the European ships and maritime equipment industry employs more than 500,000 people and has an average annual turnover of around €72 billion but faces strong competition, and, like many other industries, the effects of an unprecedented crisis. In December 2011, the Commission also adopted a new framework for European shipbuilding industry.

According to the Commission, LeaderSHIP 2020 is the result of a close co-operation between the industry, the trade unions, maritime regions, member states and the European Commission itself. The strategy underlines the problem of skills shortages for the sector and proposes a systematic approach at EU level to map the available skills and to address skill/ and training needs, through the use of EU programmes such as the Programme for Social Change and Innovation 2014-2020. It also calls for the effective communication of the long term vision of the maritime industries. Existing tools provided by EU programmes and initiatives should be harnessed to promote the attractive image of a career in the European maritime technology industry.

In addition, the strategy proposes to improve market access and fair market conditions by redefining the role of the OECD Working Party on shipbuilding, and designing a broad framework and strategy to include ‘public values targets’ in European public tenders as well as higher levels of innovation. LeaderSHIP 2020 also proposes to make best use of the EIB funding opportunities and possibilities for broadening its lending activities; explore the opportunity of a potential measure for long term ship financing by the European Commission, member states, financial operators and the maritime technology industry; and the possibility to create a Blue "Private Public partnership" (PPP).