Newsletter November 2020

Newsletter November 2020 (9)

In its latest statement, the European Tourism Manifesto (an alliance of travel and tourism organisations in Europe, among them EBI) put together a list of concrete investment ideas for Member States to adopt as part of their national recovery and investment plans. These ideas are aimed at enabling travel and tourism to generate jobs and growth and to contribute to the green and digital transitions, in line with EU policy objectives. The tourism sector, which accounts for more than 9.5% of the GDP and provides jobs to 22.6 million people has been one of the worst hit sectors during the crisis, must use the opportunity offered by the upcoming EU Recovery Plan funding not only to mitigate the pandemic’s impacts, but also to move towards sustainability and digitalisation.

The document lists a number of ideas, dividing them across seven categories: power up, renovate, recharge and refuel, connect, modernise, scale up, and reskill and upskill. Proposals cover a wide range of areas, from building greener tourism infrastructure, to financing research for the development of smart tourism data, or supporting businesses to upskill their workforce. The document also points out the multiplier effect of tourism and explains how investing in the tourism industry helps advance the objectives of the Recovery and Resilience Facility.

In particular, the statement contains a number of proposals specifically geared towards nautical tourism. These include funding for the renovation, digitalisation and environmental transformation of marinas, the rolling out of eco-mooring solutions, funding to encourage consumers to retrofit old boats with newer engines, and funding for research, development and implementation of alternative sustainable fuels for recreational engines.

The document is provisional, as a more elaborate list of investment ideas will be published by the European Tourism Manifesto towards the end of the year. The current document can be found here.

On 3 November, EBI co-chaired together with DG MARE the second meeting of the Stakeholders’ Working Group for end-of-life recreational boats. This group, which is made up of a number of organisations from the boating sector, Member State authorities and the European Commission, plans to meet every few months until 2022 with the aim of establishing a roadmap that addresses the issue of dealing with end-of-life recreational boats. The stock of such boats is expected to increase in the coming years as the large amount of boats built in the last decades reach their end of life. Because these boats are built with composite material, which is difficult to recycle, policy impetus is needed in order to devise solutions, together with further research and development on the topic.

The meeting and Working Group was co-chaired by Andreea Strachinescu (Head of Unit, DG MARE A1 Maritime Innovation, Marine Knowledge and Investment) and Philip Easthill (Secretary-General, EBI). The Working Plan for the next meetings, prepared by EBI together with members, stakeholders and the European Commission was approved. EBI also presented existing data relating to the stock of boats for dismantling. According to the Commission, out of the 6 million boats in European waters, at least 60-80,000 reach their end of life every year, and only around 2000 are dismantled through a formal process. Data from the 2019 ICOMIA Statistics Book illustrates the existing boat park by category and size. It was noted that the largest category is outboard motorboats, and that most boats are in the 2.5m - 7.5m category. Given the practical experience of APER, it was concluded that between 30-40,000 boats should be expected for dismantling at EU level per year.

The meeting included the participation of three speakers. Firstly, Guillaume Arnauld de Lion gave a comprehensive presentation on APER, the French network of waste management companies dedicated to boat dismantling. There are currently 25 dismantling centres, which dismantle end-of-life boats at no cost to the boat owner (notwithstanding the cost of transporting the boat to the plant). Their dismantling activities are financed by an eco-tax paid by boat companies for every boat sold. He also pointed out that theoretical estimates of the stock of end-of-life boats overestimated the real stock for a number of reasons. Since September 2019 until the end of November 2020, APER has dismantled 1200 boats.

Next, Ben Drogt from the European Composites Industry Association (EuCIA) talked about composite plastics, pointing out that it can be recycled through its use in the production of cement, but stressed the need to make sure the necessary infrastructure is in place, as well as the need for all industries using composite materials to work together. Finally, Marylise Schmid, from WindEurope, offered the perspective of the wind turbines sector. Like boats, the stock of end-of-life wind turbine blades (also made of composite material) is expected to increase in the coming years.

The next meeting of the Working Group will take place in early 2021. It will focus on legal issues, the removal of boats from marinas, Extended Producer Responsibility schemes and the waste hierarchy.

On 20 November, EBI had the pleasure of participating in the End-of-Life Issues and Strategies conference organised by WindEurope, the voice of the wind energy industry in Europe. As part of the panel “Wind turbines’ sustainability and circularity”, EBI Secretary-General Philip Easthill delivered a presentation where he explained the current state of circularity in the recreational boating industry and what steps are needed to make the industry more circular.

The main materials used in boat construction is fibre-reinforced polymers. These materials, also used in wind turbine blades as well as in other industries, make for a resistant and light material. Nonetheless, there are certain drawbacks associated with it: Firstly, because of its structure, it is very hard to recycle, which is why the development of alternative, more recyclable materials is among the industry’s mid-, to long-term objectives. Secondly, although there are several options for its reuse, the infrastructure for recycling of dismantled boats and other composite waste remains underdeveloped. That is why the boating industry wants to work with other sectors such as the wind industry in order to maximise the volume of composite plastic waste that is disposed of in a useful way. Another aspect raised by Philip Easthill was the key role of the EU, through funding for research and innovation funding and for dismantling and recycling schemes, as well as through the EU roadmap on end-of-life boats being developed by EBI and the European Commission.

The panel, which was chaired by LM Wind Power’s Hanif Mashal, also counted the participation of Marylise Schmid (WindEurope), Anne Velenturf (University of Leeds), Bruce Valpy (BVG Associates) and Gaurav Sharma (Schneider Electric).

Sunday, 29 November 2020 22:14

Boot Düsseldorf digital media conference

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On 4 November, boot Düsseldorf held a digital media conference where the upcoming edition of boot was presented, and which included various discussions with stakeholders from the recreational boating industry.

Following introductory remarks from Stephan Keller (mayor of Düsseldorf) and Wolfram Diener (CEO of Messe Düsseldorf), boot Project Director Petros Michelidakis took the floor to describe the seventeen exhibition halls that visitors will be able to explore in January. He also described the stringent safety measures that have been put in place against COVID-19.

Then, EBI Secretary-General Philip Easthill led a discussion about the trends and challenges of the boating industry with Robert Marx (President of BVWW) and Maud Dugourd (Secretary-General of FIN). They pointed out the initially bad situation in March and April as a result of COVID-19, which was followed by an impressive boom in the industry from May onwards, although without reaching pre-crisis levels. The challenges mentioned were the absence of trade shows in many countries due to COVID-19 restrictions, as well as the industry’s digital and sustainable transformation.

This was followed by a number of panel discussions with company representatives, who talked about some of the boat models they will be launching at boot 2021. The discussion about sailing, motorboats and chartering involved representatives from companies such as Bénéteau Group or Bavaria Yachts. The next discussion on luxury yachts included representatives from Azimut Benetti Group and Princess Yachts, among others. There were also conversations on the topics of diving and surfing.

The full recording and more information can be found on the boot Düsseldorf website.

Sunday, 29 November 2020 22:11

EU offshore renewable energy strategy

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As part of its Green Deal ambition to become carbon-neutral by 2050, the EU has published its strategy on offshore renewable energy. Offshore renewable energy includes a variety of clean energy sources like wind, wave and tidal energy, which have the potential to become a cornerstone of the EU’s clean energy transition. It is a priority to invest in these technologies, and to develop the necessary infrastructure, regulatory framework, and research and innovation.

In the strategy, the Commission assesses the potential contribution of offshore renewable energy and proposes a way forward to develop it. The Commission’s objective is to increase the installed offshore wind capacity from 12 GW today to at least 60 GW in 2030, and possibly 300 GW by 2050. This will entail the use of a large number of new sites for offshore energy. It is estimated that this will require less than 3% of the European maritime space. The Commission recognises that this requires a sound coexistence between offshore installations and other uses of the sea space such as fishing and aquaculture, shipping, tourism, or infrastructure deployment. Therefore, public authorities must focus on maritime spatial planning, to prevent conflicts between different priorities and to create synergies between economic sectors.

While some technologies such as bottom-fixed turbines are already mature, others like floating wind energy are becoming increasingly attractive. In addition, the development of circular materials is one of the priorities of current research and innovation. Applying a circular economy approach to the life cycle of offshore installations is key to ensuring their sustainability. That is why the Commission aims at systematically integrating the principle of ‘circularity by design’ into renewables research and innovation. This would involve improving existing technologies and enhancing the recyclability of materials, something which is especially needed in the case of end-of-life wind turbine blades. This could benefit the recreational boating industry too given the commonalities of composite use.

In order to ensure coherent maritime spatial planning, the Commission will analyse the interactions between offshore renewable energy and other maritime activities, and will promote dialogue between public authorities, stakeholders and scientists. In addition, Member States must submit to the Commission their national maritime spatial plans by March 2021. The strategy also notes that areas with high potential for offshore energy pose risks of collision with vessels, something that must be addressed by Member States.

A key ingredient of adequate maritime spatial planning is multi-use projects, which allow for the coexistence of different activities, and which the Commission will support. On this issue, the PHAROS4MPAs Interreg project, of which EBI was a part of, is specifically mentioned. The project documented the way marine protected areas in the Mediterranean are affected by maritime activities, including offshore wind farms and leisure boating. Based on this, the project provides recommendations on how the environmental impacts of these economic activities can be prevented or minimised.

EBI contributed to the preparation of the strategy by providing input during the consultation period, focusing on the need for adequate marine space for recreational boating and common approaches to end-of-life issues. The full strategy can be found here.

Sunday, 29 November 2020 22:07

New EU strategy for consumer protection

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In order to ensure that the Single Market delivers benefits for its citizens, the Commission adopted in November the New Consumer Agenda for the period 2020-2025, which sets a vision for EU consumer policy and tries to address consumers’ needs in the context of COVID-19. The Agenda covers five key areas: the green transition, the digital transition, redress and enforcement of consumer rights, specific needs of certain consumer groups, and international cooperation. Prior to drafting the Agenda, the Commission launched an open public consultation on the issue, to which EBI contributed with feedback from the recreational boating industry.

Various issues in the Agenda are relevant to the boating industry. Firstly, the Agenda points out the problems faced by consumers when requesting full refunds of pre-payments from transport companies and tour operators in the context of the pandemic. While the Commission has tried to ensure consumers’ rights, it now calls for a deeper analysis of the regulatory framework for package travel, given the need to ensure consumer protection. By 2022, the Commission will have analysed whether the Package Travel Directive is still adequate.

Secondly, the Commission aims to create better and more reliable information on the sustainability of goods and services (including aspects such as goods’ durability and reparability, as well as the reliability and comparability of that information). That is why in 2021 it plans to present a legislative proposal to empower consumers for the green transition (ensuring better information on products’ sustainability and protection against practices like early obsolescence), as well as a legislative proposal to ensure that companies’ green claims are substantiated. Then in 2022, the Commission will review the Sales of Goods Directive in order to encourage repair and more circular products.

Furthermore, the Commission believes that the proposals spelled out in the Agenda can only succeed within a framework of enhanced cooperation between all relevant stakeholders. This should include not only EU institutions and national authorities, but also industry actors, consumer organisations and academics. The Commission plans on establishing a new Consumer Policy Advisory Group, to discuss progress in the Consumer Agenda with all stakeholders.

These are just a few of the action points planned by the Commission in its New Consumer Agenda. The full document can be found here.

Sunday, 29 November 2020 21:57

New European Commission trade complaints system

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The European Commission has launched a new complaints system for reporting market access barriers as well as violations of sustainable development commitments in trade agreements. This comes amid a focus within the Commission on stepping up the enforcement of trade policy, and follows the appointment of the first Chief Trade Enforcement Officer in July.

Complaints can be sent by companies, trade and business associations, civil society organisations, EU citizens or Member States. They must include a detailed description of the existing problem, of any actions already taken to address it, and of the impact that either the trade barrier or the sustainable development breach might have. The Commission will then assess each complaint, and inform the complainant of whether enforcement action will be pursued, and if so, of what the steps of the action plan will be, as well as of a timeline if possible.

Complaints must be submitted through the online complaint form found on the Access2Markets portal, here.

Sunday, 29 November 2020 21:54

EU Autumn 2020 Economic Forecast

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The latest economic forecast published by the European Commission, released this month, is characterised by great uncertainty in growth projections as a result of the resurgence of COVID-19. The EU economy is expected to contract by 7.4% in 2020, and then to grow by 4.1% in 2021 and by 3% in 2022, although growth figures will vary widely between countries as a result of differences in the spread of the virus, policy responses (including containment measures) and the sectoral composition of national economies. Unemployment is expected to rise from 6.7 % in 2019 to 7.7% this year, and on to 8.6% in 2021, before declining to 8% in 2022.

The full economic forecast, including country-specific data, can be found here.

Sunday, 29 November 2020 21:39

Update on the EU’s pandemic recovery package

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The main element of the EU’s Recovery Plan (NextGenerationEU) is the Recovery and Resilience Facility (€672.5 billion), which is made up of loans and grants that will be given to Member States to mitigate the pandemic’s impact and to help build more sustainable and resilient economies and societies. Member States are in the process of designing their draft recovery and resilience plans, which have to be submitted to the European Commission by April 2021 in order to obtain funds.

The €750 billion NextGenerationEU instrument together with the €1.074 trillion seven-year EU budget (for the period 2021-2027) amount to a total package of over €1.8 trillion. This was agreed by EU leaders last July. Although the European Parliament called for more money to be made available for programmes in areas like research and health, in November it agreed with the German rotating presidency of the Council of the EU on an extra €15 billion for these purposes, thus settling the final details of the recovery plan. The different parts of the package now have to be endorsed by the Parliament and the Member States.

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