Monday, November 17, 2014

EU Programmes Target Cleaner Vessels for the Future

Private and Public Funding Used to Extend Research, Development and Construction of Eco-Friendly Shipping
Shipping News Feature

EUROPE – In a letter to Carlos Moedas, the new EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation at the beginning of his tenure this month, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker set out his vision for the Department, and indeed his whole organisation, making it plain that a new start was required and what the new man’s responsibilities are. Included in these will be driving forward the European waterborne industry strategy, LeaderSHIP 2020, which addresses the need for balancing two somewhat contradictive positions of sustainable, eco-friendly craft and increased manufacturing capacity producing higher employment steered by the ‘Vessels for the Future’ initiative.

The EU believes that by 2050 ocean and inland waterways will be employed far more, not only for the transport of freight and populace but for food production, energy and mineral supply and urban dwelling. Dr. Pierre C. Sames, Director of Research at DNV GL, is the Chairman of the European Research Association which is charged, under a Public Private Partnership with the Commission, to facilitate the programme, and he commented:

“I am happy to see fifty companies, research institutes, academic organisations and interested associations joining this initiative. The initiative will promote and facilitate maritime research, development and innovation with a focus on vessels and waterborne operations. With the establishment of ‘Vessels for the Future’ as a Research Association we are demonstrating that our goal is receiving widespread support from the wider maritime community. We look forward to working with the European Commission to conclude the exchanges and bring this initiative into action.”

The new drive comes under the auspices of the EU’s ‘Horizon 2020’ programme, the framework for Research and Innovation, the biggest such EU programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over the 7 years between 2014 to 2020, plus privately raised funds. LeaderSHIP2020 was spawned originally in February 2013 and is targeted principally at the development of shipbuilding, something the EU has seen transferred overseas in the past few years as lower Far Eastern labour costs fuelled the industry there. It also vowed to improve access to finance to fund these developments whilst improving market access and restructuring employment, basically through education and certification of skills, something those in the road haulage industry have already seen being adopted in a bid to improve both the efficiency and safety record of that sector.