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European maritime transport policy until 2018

This summary has been archived and will not be updated, because the summarised document is no longer in force or does not reflect the current situation.

European maritime transport policy until 2018

This Communication defines the main strategic objectives of the European maritime transport policy until 2018 and recommends actions to increase the competitiveness and sustainability of this sector.


Commission Communication - Strategic goals and recommendations for the EU’s maritime transport policy until 2018 [COM(2009) 008 final].


80% of international freight is carried by sea and 40% of intra-European freight uses Short Sea Shipping. European ports welcome more than 400 million passengers each year.

European shipping in globalised markets

European flags must face ever-fiercer competition from foreign competitors who are favoured by more flexible regulations, cheaper labour or government support. This imbalance, coupled with factors related to the current economic crisis, could result in maritime transport activities being relocated from Europe to third countries.

Action by the European Union (EU) should contribute to:

  • supporting the development of a competitive and stable framework which will support greener shipping efforts and innovation;
  • supporting fair competition rules and fair international maritime trade;
  • aligning the substantive competition rules globally.

Human resources, seamanship and maritime know-how

In order to address the growing shortage of marine professionals and improve the image of the sector, the EU must value maritime careers and skills. Maritime training centres have been called upon to cooperate more closely. In addition, labour mobility should be encouraged, such as is the case for officers when they are trained. The EU must also work on developing better working conditions on board ships by requiring compliance with the ILO’s (International Labour Organization) Maritime Labour Convention.

Quality shipping

‘Zero-waste, zero-emission’ maritime transport is a priority for the EU. To this end, the EU should continue its efforts by prioritising the following actions:

  • reducing greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping;
  • improving the environmental quality of marine waters;
  • managing ship-generated waste and ship dismantling;
  • reducing sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides emissions from ships;
  • promoting more ecological shipping.

The EU has a comprehensive regulatory framework. However, Member States should work on developing ever more secure maritime transport. The mandate and functioning of the European Maritime Safety Agency should be redefined so that it can provide better assistance. The EU and Member States should monitor compliance with European and international regulations. The EU should collaborate more closely with its partners in the IMO (International Maritime Organization) and contribute to a shared maritime safety culture with neighbouring countries, with regard to port State inspections in particular.

The EU and its Member States should pursue the implementation of a comprehensive framework of security measures. The actions of the EU and its Member States should foster:

  • navigation area security;
  • the protection of crews and passengers;
  • the application of rules commensurate with those at international level;
  • the promotion of a security culture within international shipping.

The EU should improve surveillance of vessels sailing in or near its waters by focusing its actions on:

  • the implementation of an integrated information management system in compliance with the ‘e-maritime’ initiative;
  • the creation of an integrated, cross-border and cross-sectoral EU surveillance system.

Exploiting the potential of Short Sea Shipping

Intra-European shipping is expected to increase between now and 2018. New infrastructures should be created and existing infrastructures should be strengthened. EU action should focus on:

  • the creation of a ‘European maritime transport space without barriers’;
  • port policy as announced by the Commission in its Communication 2007/616/EC;
  • compliance with environmental regulations on port development;
  • Trans-European Transport Networks;
  • making Short Sea Shipping more attractive.

Europe – a world leader in maritime research and innovation

EU research and development efforts should benefit maritime transport with regard to:

  • creating new ship designs and equipment for safer and cleaner transport;
  • technologies to maximise the efficiency of the transport chain;
  • inspection and monitoring tools and advanced telecommunication systems.


This Communication forms part of a broader Community strategy for transport, energy and environmental protection.

Last updated: 18.09.2009