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Maritime industry is an important sector for the EU nations, when it comes to creating more jobs and value added infrastructural and innovation development. As far as transport and industrial policies are concerned, the maritime industry is quite clearly one of the key sectors in Europe.
Following are some of the notable reasons behind the importance of maritime sector for the EU nations:
• It has a notable contribution towards the ecological renewal of the economic system
• It can play a major role in establishing an integrated European transport system.
Over the past few years, maritime industry in the EU nations has gone through far reaching structural changes and has met burgeoning pressure from the international competition. Past few decades have experienced a tremendous increase in lorry and car traffic. For a long time now, transport policies of various EU nations have prioritized road traffic for both, transportation of people as well as shipment of goods.
The European Commission constantly monitors the shipbuilding sector from the strategic point of view. With cooperation from the stakeholders, it undertakes suitable strategies to further encourage the development of this sector in Europe and enhance its competitiveness.
The European Commission has regulated a recreational craft sector at EU level with regards to safety and environmental standards, administrative procedures and production and design requirements. The objective of this commission is to ensure sustainable development of the European maritime sector from environmental, social and economic point of view. It covers boats of 2.5 to 24m hull length that are mainly used for the purpose of sport or leisure. It essentially addresses the internal market legislations that these products need to comply with in order to ensure their free circulation on the European Union market.
UK: Although not many people are aware of it, the fact is that more than 90% of the visible trade in the UK takes place through the sea-route. In the UK, increasing maritime leisure interests and growing world trade, a broad range of supporting maritime activities are also increasing. The UK has had a significant maritime history and with a turnover of £56 billion, currently is considered to have the largest maritime sector among the European nations. Today, the maritime industry in the UK is bigger than both automotive as well as aerospace industry. In addition, it provides employment to around 410,000 people and thus makes a significant contribution towards the UK economy.
Greece: The shipping industry is one of the important elements of Greek economic activity. Besides providing employment to around 4% of the total workforce (160,000 people), it accounts for 4.5% of the country’s GDP. The rapid and steady growth of the Greece Maritime industry has been made possible due to the support from a number of factors. One such factor is the geographical location of Greece, due to which there are numerous islands and shores in the country.
As per the findings of the BTS, the Greek-owned maritime fleet, with 3,079 vessels is currently considered to be the largest in the world. It accounts for as much as 18% of the world’s fleet capacity. Niarchos, Onassis and Latsis are some of the prominent maritime companies that have played an important role in the development of the maritime industry in Greece.
Norway: Norway is considered as the most diversified maritime nation among the European Union nations. The shipbuilding industry in Norway consists of over 50 technically advanced, internationally competitive small and medium-sized shipyards.
To explore existing as well as new opportunities in the maritime industry, the Norwegian government is undertaking required measures. The Norwegian embassy in Kiev, in association with the Ukrainian Ministry of Industrial Policy, had held a Ukrainian-Norwegian Roundtable on Shipbuilding in October 2010. This roundtable involved the participation of prominent businesses representatives from both the countries and confirmed that there is a scope for further development in the shipbuilding sector.
Although other industrial sectors hold a significant importance, the fact is that the maritime industry is integrated into the European economy more closely as compared to any other sector. The ability of this sector to create jobs will surely assume a significant importance in the policy-making process of the EU nations.
In addition, the growing expansion of the world trade presents a scope for high growth for not only maritime traffic but also the other offshoots of the maritime industry. The best part is that all the current forecasts have predicted a decent, above-average growth in the transport sector, particularly in container traffic. Reports also suggest that both ferry and passenger traffic is expected to keep expanding over the 10 years. The maritime industry in Europe seeks the help of information technology to enhance short sea shipping in the area.
Some major problems affecting maritime traffic in Europe are:
• interface problems between individual carriers
• external costs
• varying and inadequate toll charges.
In intercontinental, global trade, shipping is considered as one of the most important transport modes. However, the rise in the volume of intra-European trade has caused disproportionate growth in overland traffic.
To encourage investment in the maritime sector, the European commission is trying to address the above mentioned problems at the earliest. The liberal investment policy followed by the European commission is another important factor that has caught the interests of the investors of foreign investors.
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