On 14 October, EBI had the pleasure of participating in an online meeting organised by the European Parliament’s Intergroup for Seas, Rivers, Islands and Coastal Areas (SEARICA). The meeting, titled “Maritime Industries: recovering from the COVID-19 crisis and building a strong renewal strategy”, brought together representatives from the EU institutions and from different maritime industries to discuss the impacts of the crisis and present the needs of the maritime sector.
EBI Secretary-General Philip Easthill, who presented the interests of the recreational boating industry, pointed out that the crisis has had an impact on tourism, thereby affecting marinas, charter companies and boatbuilders. He also noted the positive effect resulting from some consumers resorting to recreational boating as an outdoor recreation and tourism option that enables social distancing. He then presented the priorities for the industry, which include:
- Recognition and support for the industry’s investment needs within EU and national funding schemes
- Funding for the development of nautical and marina infrastructure (such as berths, environmental sustainability and digitalisation)
- Research, development and innovation targeted towards low-emission boating (such as electric and hybrid engines, biofuels, and new materials)
- Improved differentiation between the investment needs of recreational boating and maritime transport
MEP Tonino Picula and MEP Petros Kokkalis (Chair and Vice-Chair of SEARICA, respectively) introduced the event, stressing the importance of maritime industries, not least in the context of the European Green Deal. On behalf of the Commission, Felix Leinemann (Head of Unit at the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries) explained how the EU has been helping the maritime sector and pointed out the relevance of the blue economy to the European Green Deal, while Magda Kopczynska (from the Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport) highlighted the importance of financial aid and stressed her reassurance that maritime industries would be at the forefront of the greening and digitalisation of the economy. Other speakers included representatives from the shipbuilding, renewable energy and port sectors, among others.