The new LeaderSHIP 2020 (1 MB) initiative was adopted in 2013 in response to the effects of the economic crisis on the shipbuilding sector. The report outlines a strategic vision for the industry that is:
- specialised in high tech markets
- energy efficient
- capable of diversifying into new markets, etc.
To make this vision a reality, the report provides a series of recommendations for the short and medium term to generate sustainable growth and high-value jobs linked to maritime technologies. It outlines four priorities:
Employment and skills
The report emphasises the importance of best practice for restructuring and improving the public’s perception of the industry. It outlines ways to acquire new talent and skills, life-long learning projects, harmonise certificates (or to validate non-certified skills), and facilitate mobility.
Improving market access and fair market conditions
This section of the report elaborates on actions to be taken on intellectual property rights (IPR) and public procurement, within the framework of international organisations such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Access to finance
The report shows that access to finance has become the single most important factor in competing for international shipbuilding contracts. It explores ways to address access to finance, including financing environment improvements and diversification into new markets. This can be achieved by making best use of the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) funding opportunities and exploring possibilities to broaden its lending activities, primarily for projects related to green shipping, offshore renewable energy, and retrofitting.
Research, development and innovation (RDI)
As regards RDI, the report focuses on how to exploit new market opportunities, and stimulate research and innovation. The report suggests that the industry should develop a roadmap for a public-private partnership at EU level (Horizon 2020) with the aim of focusing maritime research on:
- zero emission and energy efficient vessels, and zero technical accident vessels;
- emerging market opportunities.
The report also calls on EU countries and coastal regions to explore the possibility of allocating structural funds, for the period 2014-2020, towards the diversification of the maritime technology industry into new market sectors, especially within the context of regional strategies for smart specialisation.
Background to LeaderSHIP 202O
The current LeaderSHIP 2020 (1 MB) initiative has its origins in the LeaderSHIP 2015 initiative, launched in 2003. The aim was to provide a coordinated response to the challenges faced by the European shipbuilding sector. Its main focus was on knowledge-based activities and the need for a better return on the substantial investments made by shipyards in research, development, and innovation.
In view of the negative impact that the economic crisis is having on the EU shipbuilding industry, a strong impetus was needed to identify new opportunities in the areas of innovation, greening, application of new technologies, and diversification into new emerging markets such as offshore wind energy.
Shipbuilding industry related policies
Various policies, in particular relating to environment and maritime safety, research and innovation, intellectual property, and maritime clusters have impacted the shipbuilding industry.
Environmental policies and safety
Shipbuilding is considered a comparatively clean industry and maritime freight is the cleanest mode of transport in terms of tones/km. Nevertheless, given the total number of global ship movements and the increasing dependency of global trade on shipped goods, attention is now focused on reducing general emissions from ships. For details, see EU policy on ship emissions.
The increased number of operational ships requires higher safety standards to avoid environmentally hazardous accidents. Shipbuilders and maritime equipment suppliers are part of the solution to the challenge of reducing emissions from ships.
Funding and support for R&D and innovation
Europe accounts for almost all international shipping innovations. This is made possible by successful innovation and research. The Commission’s R&D programme "Horizon 2020" is important for the sector, as were previous framework programmes.
Research in the shipbuilding industry was supported by the 6th research framework programme, for example via the INTERSHIP project.
The 7th framework programme enabled EU funds to be directed towards research costs for certain shipbuilding projects.
LeaderSHIP 2015: Defining the Future of the European Shipbuilding and Ship repair Industry (1 MB) (2013) - (Report in the form of brochure)
- LeaderSHIP 2015 (report in the form of) Commission Communication (2003)
For more information on EU shipbuilding see also the web sites: