News compiled from various sources on current developments in the maritime industry in Europe is presented below for informational purposes.

Commission proposes €2 million to help 500 workers made redundant in shipbuilding and ancillary sectors in Galicia, Spain

Today, the European Commission proposes to provide Spain with €2 million from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) to help 500 former workers of sectors ancillary to shipbuilding in Galicia to find new jobs.

Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, said:"The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund is a clear example of EU solidarity. It provides funding for mentoring and retraining to workers who have lost their jobs due to globalisation or the economic crisis. The European shipbuilding sector is greatly affected by globalisation and a loss of global market share, with increased competition from outside the EU. We want to help the workers made redundant in Galicia by providing €2 million for their reskilling and upskilling efforts to find new job opportunities in other sectors. "

The EU's declining market share in global ship production and the increased global competition have led to dire consequences for the ancillary shipbuilding industry in Galicia. Spain requested support from the EGF after 960 workers in ancillary enterprises to shipyards in Galicia were laid off between May 2019 and February 2020.

Around 500 redundant workers are expected to participate in the support measures co-financed by the EGF. The package aims to provide them with career guidance, support in their job search, opportunities to learn new skills by means of vocational training, and tutoring and guidance after finding another job. In addition, workers will have access to various other incentives, such as a contribution to expenses for family carers and financial support to encourage quick re-employment. The total estimated cost of the package is €3.4 million, of which the EGF would provide €2 million. The remaining amount will be provided by the regional authority, the Xunta de Galicia. The Commission's proposal will now go to the European Parliament and the Council for approval.

Cruise industry and unions get most workers home, but challenging times ahead

As the global cruise industry and seafarers’ unions near completion of the repatriation of almost 250,000 seafarers, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) warns that there are challenging times ahead for the industry and its workforce.

The ITF and its affiliated unions represent much of the global cruise ship workforce. The federation and the unions have actively supported the return of tens of thousands of seafarers in all categories from catering, hospitality staff, and entertainers to deck and engine crew, who were left stranded aboard cruise vessels across the globe as Covid-19 struck and governments shut their borders.

Dave Heindel, Chair of the Seafarers’ Section of the ITF, says the pandemic has shown the best and worst of humanity.“On the one hand we’ve seen governments shamefully shutting their doors to seafarers as port states, transit countries and even the home countries of seafarers when really they should have done everything within their power to get seafarers on cargo and cruise ships home. On the other hand, this pandemic has shown the best of unions and many employers who have tried their hardest for these seafarers in really difficult circumstances,” said Dave Heindel.

“We have nothing but respect and admiration for the seafarers. These are people who simply went to work and found themselves trapped aboard what some seafarers came to call their ‘floating prisons’, unable to come ashore even for a walk. We thank these seafarers for their patience and fortitude through an incredibly difficult time. Some seafarers have been overwhelmed by the situation, and some have tragically taken their own lives out of desperation. We are deeply saddened by these events, and although most of us have never experienced a situation like theirs, we feel for them and their families. Seafarers deserve solidarity and respect from the public for what they’ve endured during this pandemic,”

“It is difficult to overstate the scale of the operation needed to get almost 250,000 seafarers home from cruise ships dotted around the world. The ITF family of maritime unions have been working round the clock since March to coordinate visas, flights and travel exemptions for seafarers to get home to their families,” "While this is a fantastic result in the cruise industry, we need to remember that there remain around 300,000 seafarers trapped working over their contracts aboard cargo vessels, some as much as 16 months. Well over their 8-9 months as expected. This number is growing day-by-day. The answer here is simple: governments have to make practical exemptions to restrictions on seafarers’ travel and transit so that we can see a return to functional crew changes. It is imperative that we get these hundreds of thousands of seafarers off their ships after their contracts have expired, just as we did in the cruise industry,” said Dave Heindel.

Johan Øyen, who is Chair of the ITF’s Cruise Ship Task Force, says the combined efforts represent a major humanitarian success.“This success has occurred despite governments, including flag and port states, failing to live up to their legal and human rights obligations under international law. Not only was it morally wrong for states to refuse seafarers the ability to come ashore in order to get home, it was also illegal. We will be looking at what kind of enforcement mechanisms are required to prevent states from shirking their responsibilities in the future,” said Johan Øyen.

“Despite the challenges, the majority of the cruise industry has worked to achieve this result. The ITF and our affiliated unions look forward to working cooperatively with the industry to ensure recovery plans and the restart of operations coincide with an open conversation on how to improve the working and living conditions of seafarers onboard,”

Øyen says the ITF is concerned at reports that a number of Covid outbreaks have occurred on cruise ships in recent days, although at least one of these outbreaks is believed only to have happened due to important procedures not being been followed prior to the voyage.

“Cruising should only happen again when adequate health and safety measures are in place and are followed, and commitments are made from cruise location countries that they will allow seafarers shore leave and ashore for medical assistance and crew change as required. Cruise lines need to learn from the mistakes many of them made early in this pandemic to ensure safe work environments for seafarers,”

“We hope the global community will take note of the suffering of the seafarers left for months on board waiting to get home, and pay due respects to those seafarers.They are heroes of this pandemic,” said Johan Øyen.(Source : International Transport Worker's Federation-ITF)



EU’s 2030 climate target: ECSA publishes study on implications of EU ETS for shipping

With the European Commission announcing an increased climate target for 2030 and aiming to extend the EU's Emission Trading System (EU ETS) to the shipping sector, ECSA is publishing its joint study with the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) on the "Implications of application of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) to international shipping, and potential benefits of alternative Market-Based Measures (MBMs)"written by Dr EdmundHughes.

"Implementing the European Green Deal, the Commission has put forward today a new increased EU emissions’ reduction target for 2030 aiming to extend the EU ETS to shipping," said Martin Dorsman, ECSA Secretary-General. "Since the IMO's Initial Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships was adopted in 2018, the shipping industry has been working hard towards these goals and made important progress. Additionally it has put forward a proposal for an International Maritime Research and Development Fund. The proposal seeks the establishment of a programme to accelerate the introduction of low-carbon and zero-carbon technologies and fuels for new and existing vessels. There should be absolutely no doubt that the industry is fully committed to decarbonisation and green energy transition.Yet many questions still remain as to whether an EU market-based measure (MBM), in addition to other short and medium term measures set by the IMO, would derail the international negotiations at the IMO and revert progress already made. Furthermore, is the EU ETS an effective and efficient measure? If not, what are the alternatives?

"Rather than blindly implement the EU ETS on the shipping industry that is already advancing towards decarbonisation, we should first answer all these questions with an independent, thorough and comprehensive impact assessment," Mr Dorsman continued.

In order to contribute constructively to the discussion, a study was commissioned by the industry to look at both potential advantages and disadvantages of the EU ETS on shipping.

One of the most significant findings is the mismatch between the EU ETS and the complex diversity of the numerous segments within the shipping industry:

"The characteristics of the numerous ship types, contractual relationships and operators present a highly complex market that is unlikely to be effectively or appropriately addressed suggesting a pragmatic approach by decision makers is required, as has already being demonstrated by the European Parliament’s recommendation to continue leaving road transport outside the scope of EU-ETS."

Furthermore, such a measure would undermine the international negotiations to implement the IMO’s Initial Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships and would increase political tension with third countries, potentially leading to trade disputes.

Another finding pertains to the dominance of SMEs within the industry, where “administrative burden and associated costs in comparison to other MBMs would be significant and should be a critical consideration for policymakers”. The use of the revenues is another critical point: depending on the final set-up, the revenues from the EU ETS would most likely not support efficiency projects and, in that case, they would not facilitate the energy transition of the sector.

"ECSA invites all policymakers to enter into discussion with the industry and openly discuss both pros and cons of an EU action and the different policy options. We also look forward to fully contributing to the impact assessment exercise, which we insist is an absolute necessity," Mr Dorsman concluded. (Source: European Community Shipowners’ Associations)



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Prepared and translated by Emre ERDOGAN, Foreign Affairs Unit Foreign Affairs, Responsible, Emre ERDOGAN