News from Europe

27 June 2016

General Assembly of Sea Europe

On 17 June 2016, SEA Europe – the Ships’ and Maritime Equipment Association – held its third General Assembly in Gdańsk (Poland).

“This meeting was a special one”, said Kjersti Kleven, Chair of the Board of Kleven Maritime AS and acting as Chair of the SEA Europe’ General Assembly. “Gdańsk is Poland’s principal seaport and the place where Donald Tusk – the President of the European Council since 2014 – originates from. And the Gdańsk Shipyards also played a major role in the recent political history of Europe”.

An ambitious strategy for a more visible and active association

With the arrival of the new Secretary General Christophe Tytgat, SEA Europe’s members took the opportunity to revise the association’s mission, purpose, priorities, resources and structure.

The members of SEA Europe fully endorsed the ambitious strategy developed by the Directors’ Committee and the Secretary General. The mission and purpose of SEA Europe will be concentrated on lobbying the EU institutions and relevant international organisations, as well as on R&D policy formulation and project management, and on providing the right members’ services.

The General Assembly agreed that SEA Europe’s primary focus will be on regulatory affairs, including technical and environmental-related matters, Research and Development, trade issues and human capital. Three tools will assist the association in its policy formulations and market monitoring, notably the social dialogue, the market monitoring reports and the market forecast publications.

The General Assembly also confirmed the need for two special business areas: ship maintenance, repair and conversion (SEA SMRC), and naval (SEA NAVAL).

Mario Dogliani (Italy) appointed as SEA Europe’s new Technical Director

In line with the ambitious strategy of SEA Europe, the association appointed Italian Mario Dogliani as its new Technical Director.

Mr. Dogliani will work on technical and environmental matters, both internationally (particularly in the IMO, as representative of the Community of European Shipyards’ Associations, CESA) and towards the European Institutions.

“Mr. Dogliani brings more than 30 years of professional experience and technical expertise to our association”, said Christophe Tytgat. “I am very happy to welcome Mario to SEA Europe. The European Maritime Technology industry will greatly benefit from Mario’s longstanding expertise”.  

In addition to appointing a Technical Director, the General Assembly also agreed on the need to appoint a dedicated R&D Project Manager soon.

European shipyards are doing well in a market that is still characterised by competitive distortions

 From SEA Europe’s recent Market Monitoring Report, it is clear that European shipyards are doing rather well in today’s markets.  

Both the European orderbooks for newbuildings as well as for ship maintenance, repair or conversion have increased over the past 4 to 5 years. For commercial ship building, Europe ranks 4th after South-Korea, China and Japan in terms of share of the world’s orderbook value. However, Europe ranks 1st before these three countries when taking into consideration its naval industry. Moreover, Europe is the leader in the naval export market. In comparison, in the world’s orderbook value, commercial shipbuilding in the United States is virtually inexistent, despite protectionist measures.

In contrast, Europe’s main shipbuilding competitors, China and South Korea are struggling hard, with yards and jobs being at stake. However, to protect their local yards and jobs, the Chinese and South-Korean authorities are intervening heavily with massive amounts of subsidies thereby – regrettably – keeping inefficiencies, overcapacity and thus competitive distortions alive.

Against this background, SEA Europe wants to recall that LeaderSHIP 2020 – the strategy document that provides a series of recommendations for the short and medium term to support sustainable growth, high value jobs and address the societal challenges of the shipbuilding industry – called for actions to improve market access and fair competitive conditions.

“We regret to note that recent developments clearly indicate that we are far away from fair competition and a global level playing field”, said Bernard Meyer, Managing Partner of Meyer Werft. “We call upon the European Union to continue to fight for a global level playing field and fair competition, to the benefit of European shipyards as well as to the advantage of the world ship building market. We invite the European Commission to address this serious problem in its various contacts with other States, including South Korea”, underlined Mr. Meyer.

“In addition to distorting competitive practices, the European Union also needs to remain vigilant for protectionist measures”, added Hans Voorneveld, Vice-Chairman of SEA Europe. “We seriously hope that the European Commission will be successful in convincing the US TTIP negotiators to look into some important issues raised by SEA Europe, not just to the benefit of European shipyards alone but also to the advantage of the US itself”.

Despite these positive developments, some parts of the European shipbuilding industry are facing severe challenges as a result of the down-turn in the oil and gas industry. “Also for these parts of the industry, a global level playing field is crucial”, highlighted Kjersti Kleven. 

SEA Europe confirms its adherence to the highest possible social standards in Europe

SEA Europe is a recognised social partner in the Sectoral Social Dialogue for Shipbuilding. Together with its trade union counterpart IndustriALL, SEA Europe works actively towards the highest social standards in the European Union.

“The General Assembly of SEA Europe welcomed the work carried out by the social partners for shipbuilding in the Sectoral Social Dialogue”, underlined Christophe Tytgat. Most recently,  SEA Europe and IndustriALL finalised a report on creating a European Skills’ Council, which, inter alia, should assist the industry in ensuring a better match between the needs of the labour market and the relevant skills. “Our General Assembly welcomed the work done on the European Skills Council and welcomed the Commission’s decision to select the Maritime Technology sector as one of the 6 key sectors to pilot the new “Blue Print for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills. We are pleased with the new proposal which recognises the relevance of our industry as a key sector for the smart and sustainable growth as well as innovation and competitiveness in Europe. We are sure that this initiative will definitely help to better match skills within our sector”, said Christophe Tytgat.

SEA Europe also confirmed its adherence to the highest possible social standards in Europe.

Research and Development is key for a competitive European industry

European maritime equipment manufacturers are world leader in global production of – often very sophisticated – maritime equipment. In order to remain competitive, European maritime equipment manufacturers need to stay ahead of global competitors and research, development and innovation are key factors to this end.

“There is a strong need for close cooperation between the European maritime technology sector and the European decision-makers to secure a right RDI policy for our sector”, said Christophe Tytgat. “Equally, there is a strong need for the entire maritime sector to join forces in order to remain ahead of global competition and to address the various environmental challenges that international and European decision-makers expect from the maritime industry”, added Christophe Tytgat.

Research and development are also of key importance to European shipyards. Over the last ten years, the outlook of the European order books has evolved from traditional ship types to very sophisticated ships, such as cruise ships, offshore vessels, dredgers, passenger ships, etc. 

“In order to stay ahead of global competition, Europe needs a strong R&D policy and needs to understand the challenges and threats of European shipyards as well as European maritime equipment manufacturers, said Kjersti Kleven.


Christophe Tytgat, Secretary General
t: +32 (0)2230 3287