European ship owners organised last week a seminar on offshore shipping in the European Parliament. The event specifically targeted European policy makers in an effort to raise awareness about the diversity and importance of the European shipping industry’s fastest growing segment.
“I believe it was a very good first step in putting offshore shipping on the map. It emphasised the challenges faced by the sector as well as its specific needs” said Patrick Verhoeven, ECSA Secretary General.
The event follows a series of steps taken to bring this budding industry into the ECSA fold. As human activity expands and intensifies in the areas of offshore oil and gas and wind energy, offshore service vessels have proliferated to cater to the needs of this booming sector: Ships prospecting for oil; conducting oceanographic research; providing diving assistance; undertaking undersea work; laying and repairing cables or pipelines, ships servicing offshore wind farms as well as oil and gas platforms.
“We are very pleased to be given the possibility to present offshore shipping in the European Parliament. Offshore shipping is a well-regulated industry characterised by highly advanced technology and a dedication to innovation. Its value creation and contribution to a knowledge-intensive European maritime cluster is significant,” said Hanna Lee Behrens, Chairman of the dedicated ECSA offshore shipping working group.
Following a presentation of the different types of vessels engaged in offshore shipping as well as the markets in which they operate, participants discussed a variety of issues directly or indirectly affecting the industry. Particular attention was paid to market access restrictions in some countries and to the potential EU benefits if those restrictions are addressed. The current TTIP negotiations between the US and the EU are a case in point. Europe stands to make significant gains by advocating that access to the US shipping market be facilitated on the basis of the principle of reciprocity. The US could equally benefit from the know-how and expertise of the EU offshore industry, breathing new life into its offshore activities.
Commenting on the event, hosting EPP MEP Bendt Bendtsen (DK) said: “The seminar successfully highlighted the importance of the sector – both in terms of growth in Europe and for the EU’s goals in other policy areas, such as energy and climate. It was very satisfactory that the messages of the sector – to us as policy-makers – were so clear: We need a stable and well-coordinated regulatory framework, open markets and a trade agreement with US to enable competitiveness and further growth.”