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‘If the EU fails to adopt tailor-made sectoral policies and financial support beyond its horizontal industrial policies, Europe risks to lose its strategic maritime technology sector to Asia, whilst European shipyards and maritime equipment manufacturers are key for the European Green Deal, for Europe’s Blue Economy and mobility, for Europe’s defence, security and autonomy and for Europe’s access to seas and trade of goods and passengers, says SEA Europe’s chairwoman, Kjersti Kleven.

SEA Europe represents almost 100% of the European shipbuilding industry across 16 countries and has today (1 April) issued a stark warning that the region’s maritime technology may have to fight for survival unless it receives targeted EU support.

Any scaling back of Europe’s shipbuilding capability would make the region ‘entirely dependent on Asia for the design, building, repair, retrofitting, and equipment of civilian ships, with devastating effects for Europe’s autonomy, defence and security, maritime economy and workforce,’ commented Kleven

To monitor the local situation in Member States on a weekly basis and assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on companies, employees and supply chain, SEA Europe has set up an internal task force.

A SEA Europe statement issued today notes that: ‘Unlike other industries, Europe’s maritime technology sector will feel the real negative consequences from the COVID-19 outbreak more acutely in the medium and long-term.

‘This is because shipbuilding and maritime equipment manufacturing are export-oriented businesses and very much depend on global macro-economic trends, trade volumes, and market sentiments.

It continued: ‘Moreover, shipbuilding is characterised by very long lead production times, with a 2-3 years’ time laps between the ship’s contracting and delivery on average, and heavily depends on a well-functioning supply chain, as 70-80% of the ship’s value derives from the supply chain.’

SEA Europe says it expects that COVID-19 will ‘particularly negatively impact those markets in which Europe’s shipyards currently are global leaders,’ notably for complex ship types, such as ferries and cruise vessels, dredgers, advanced fishing vessels and vessels for offshore operations.

The association also says it is anticipating many cruise ship construction orders to be cancelled because of the severely damaging impact of the current pandemic on the cruise sector.

If the EU fails to introduce measures, including state aid, to shore up Europe’s maritime technology sector, SEA Europe says more than 1 million jobs in this industry would be axed and €120 billion of sectoral added value would be lost.


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