European Boating Industry (EBI), the voice of the recreational boating industry celebrated its 10-year anniversary in early November. Members of the European Parliament, the European Commission and leaders of the European recreational boating sector gathered in Brussels for high-level discussions, setting a vision for the next decade. Strengthening the EU’s Single Market, de-escalating the EU-US trade war, harmonising qualifications, tackling environmental challenges and strengthening European industrial excellence are the key priorities.
The high-profile event celebrating the anniversary of the 2009 founding of the European Boating Industry (EBI) took place at the Representation of the Region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine to the EU. The recreational boating industry is central to the development of many maritime and coastal regions.
Opening the anniversary, EBI President Jean-Pierre Goudant remarked “Our anniversary is a great time to look back at EBI’s achievements and celebrate ten years of advocacy for our sector. It is also an opportunity to emphasise the importance of our sector as an economic actor for the EU. Our members, many of them SMEs, provide tens of thousands of jobs and are often the backbone of local communities and economies. As EBI, we will work to strengthen them and our sector through a truly European approach in close collaboration with the EU institutions and our stakeholders.
Tiziana Beghin (Member of the European Parliament) opened the event with an introductory statement highlighting the positive impact of the recreational boating industry in Europe and Italy, as well as its relevance for the EU institutions. Moderated by prominent journalist Jennifer Baker, the debate brought together Felix Leinemann (European Commission, DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries), Mirna Cieniewicz (Groupe Beneteau), Bogusław Liberadzki (Member of the European Parliament), Sebastian Nietupski (POLBOAT) and Dr. Anne-Cécile Dragon (WWF European Policy Office).
Topics taking centre-stage were the de-escalation of the EU-US trade war harming the sector, strengthening the EU’s Single Market for the boating industry, harmonisation of qualifications to address skills and workforce shortages, the circular economy and the development of an environmentally friendly industry.
Following the event, EBI Secretary-General Philip Easthill commented “We are committed to strengthening our work with the EU institutions, our members and stakeholders in order to contribute to common challenges at European level. We look forward to advancing discussions around trade, environment, circular economy, skills and the Single Market in our second decade. Getting economic and environmental sustainability right is crucial for our sector to grow, provide jobs and further develop. Clean and healthy oceans and seas are the lifeblood of our industry.”
Quotes from the panelists
Felix Leinemann (Head of Unit, European Commission DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries) - “In the context of the European Green Deal, we will need to balance growth in nautical tourism with sustainability. I appreciate EBI’s commitment to work with the Commission on several sustainability elements: climate change, circular economy, respect for the environment, and especially our cooperation towards developing a European concept for the recycling of end-of-life recreational craft”
Tiziana Beghin (Member of the European Parliament) – “The recreational boating industry is a key economic activity and employer for many regions across Europe, including the region of Liguria where I come from. Key for the industry is its export orientation where the EU has an overwhelmingly positive trade ratio. It is crucial for us as policy-makers to support this development and ensure that European companies can continue to grow by removing tariffs and trade barriers.”
Sebastian Nietupski (President, POLBOAT) - “One of the major challenges for our industry is that customers are getting older and younger generations have a different approach. As is happening with cars, bikes and houses, sharing is becoming the new norm and the same is true for boating. The sharing economy has the benefit to make boating even more accessible, but it forces producers to adapt their strategy in a new and wider way. A boat will not just be a boat - it will be a full-service package including financing and maintenance. This shift from product to service will be crucial for the EU to take into account when looking at its future industrial policy and extending the Single Market.”
Mirna Cieniewicz (Director, Groupe Beneteau) - “Being sustainable is no longer a question, it is just about how to get there. Life-cycle assessment, eco-design, advanced production processes and materials are all areas to be investigated. We need more of this together with the support from the EU institutions to ensure progress is made across all the Single Market for the boats and their equipment. Having contributed to the creation of European Boating Industry as first-ever Secretary-General ten years ago and now working for Europe’s largest boatbuilder Groupe Beneteau, I am delighted to participate in these discussions at a European level within EBI”
Bogusław Liberadzki (Member of the European Parliament) - “The boating industry has a positive economic impact for Europe as I have clearly seen at the example of my own country Poland. As Member of the European Parliament, my vision for the coming years is to support and develop the boating industry and ensure it can thrive and grow across Europe. Ensuring coherence between sustainability and providing the basis for growth is the duty of the European Parliament and all EU institutions”
Dr Anne-Cécile Dragon (Policy Officer, WWF EU) - “The coming years are crucial to protect our ocean and the resource base on which a sustainable Blue growth depends. Integrated maritime policies, sustainable financial and investment flows, as well as ecosystem-based Marine Spatial Planning are all important means to ensure an environmentally sustainable development of blue economy. WWF looks forward to working with the EU institutions and stakeholders, such as the European Boating Industry to make this a reality”