Foster European maritime entrepreneurship

Elections European Parliamentary 2024

Europa, foster maritime entrepreneurship:

  • ACKNOWLEDGE maritime shipping as part of Europe’s strategic infrastructure;
  • FACILITATE access to finance for both small and large companies that contribute to decarbonisation;
  • HARMONISE regulations for internationally responsible business conduct;
  • ENCOURAGE maritime knowledge and skills within the European Union;
  • UTILISE the opportunities that the European maritime arena has to offer. 

This is shipping:

KVNR - Marjolein van Noort - Financiering, Handel en Europese zaken - web


Marjolein van Noort
EU Public Affairs

+31 6 2392 4513

KVNR - Nathan Habers - Public Relations, Crisisco├Ârdinatie en Geopolitiek - web
Press inquiries


Nathan Habers
Head of Communications & Pulic Affairs

+31 10 2176 264

Promote maritime entrepreneurship

As much as 90% of goods is transported over sea. In addition, the shipping sector plays a vital role in enabling the production of renewable energy carriers. The primary example is the use of ships for the installation and maintenance of offshore wind farms. The sector is essential for European logistics and employment and thus of great economic significance for our collective prosperity. A robust maritime infrastructure is thereby an important prerequisite for the success of the European single market and economy. 

A war on the European continent followed after the COVID pandemic. And with a tremendous impact on seafarers and shipping. Additionally, there is now kinetic escalation in the Middle East which includes a direct threat to international shipping in the Red Sea. These are indeed trying times. At the same time, with the Fit For 55 package, the EU pushes the shift towards a sustainable economy forward. These developments require a broad and strong European response.

Dutch shipowners support the energy transition. Rewarding companies, that sustainably strengthen international competitiveness, is essential to make this fundamental shift possible. This involves climate and environment, working conditions and new business models. 

There is definitely room for ambition when it comes to industrial policy. And protectionist measures come with side effects that are counterproductive for maritime companies. 

The power of the European Union must be strenghtened by seizing opportunities presented by maritime businesses. This includes investing in the modal shift to water, protecting the vital function of European maritime infrastructure and facilitating businesses in Europe to invest in innovation and growth themselves. 

Illustration: Dutch position in European shipping, ranked by number of ships based on country of ship management

Today’s big challenges, such as the energy transition, deserve solutions that are sustainable. Achieving a stable economy is central to this, with sustainability in the broadest sense as a core value. The shipping industry plays a key role in solving complex issues of great social importance. 

Examples include a flexible labour market to secure crewing of the European fleet, the modal shift of the transport of goods from land to water, or the construction of vital infrastructure on the seabed. The KVNR therefore advocates a strong shipping industry as the engine of a stable and open EU. Simply put: one ship can mean a lot. For example: 

plate-wheat-solid.png 32.103 people

Got bread on their plate, thanks to one ship filled with wheat.

house-fire-solid.png 9.180 houses

Are being heated, thanks to one tanker full of natural gas. 

Why is this important?

As part of the broad maritime sector, the shipping industry functions as an important strategic base for Europe. The European continent has a high population density with its own production and sales markets. It is the art of turning challenges into opportunities: this is when the shipping industry comes into the picture. 

Global political power shifts make it important not only to have good maritime infrastructure, as mentioned above, but also to protect it properly. This not only involves energy installations, but also underwater infrastructure for data cables, for instance. Commercial shipping thus plays an indispensable role in Europe’s security and autonomy. 

The EU needs an advanced transport and energy network that optimises the use of the available space. In European waters, not all opportunities have been utilised yet to relieve the limited space for roads and railways on land. 

Sea shipping is also a sensible choice from the perspective of the climate challenge. Waterborne transport is (already) the least polluting mode of transport for large volumes.  

Illustration: Positions of seagoing ships of KVNR-members in European waters (January 2024) 


Scaling up the availability of clean energy carriers (new, clean fuels) is strongly needed. To obtain these necessary carriers, the EU cannot do without international trade agreements. The required innovations also include solutions that reduce fuel consumption (increasing efficiency), as well as the shift towards European standardisation for providing low-power shore-side electricity. Additionally, the EU government plays a driving role in promoting investments in the development and scaling of innovative technologies. 

The shipping industry is part of a broad and diverse maritime ecosystem. Seafarers take experience and maritime knowledge with them when they finish their careers at sea and continue working at, for instance, a shipowner’s shore organisation, a shipbuilder, a nautical college, a maritime research agency or the government. A strong and sustainable shipping sector needs qualified people who pursue a maritime career and have the skills of the future. European funds for (re)training existing workers and inclusive recruitment of new talent are essential for the success of this transition. 

Seizing economic opportunities can only be done through a European integrated plan that ensures the availability of space for shipping lanes, wind farms and other offshore infrastructure. Now that activities in the marine space, such as the North Sea, are increasing, collaboration and coordination are necessary for continuous safe spatial planning.  

Global agreements and laws already contribute to the resilience of social agreements and a progressively safer and cleaner sector. Such agreements are the foundation for a global level playing field for international shipping. The global nature of the sector should therefore always be taken into account when creating European shipping policies.  

Illustration: World trade fleet of 68,039 ocean-going ships, by number of ships per ship manager. 

At the same time, the European Union is ambitious in reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Ambitions that are also expressed by the sector. Concrete steps are being taken every day in this regard. Sea-going ships have already become 21 to 29 per cent more efficient between 2008 and 2018, according to the 2020 IMO 4th Greenhouse Gas Study. Yet, more needs to be done. At the same time, this requires substantial investments for the construction of new ships and in the existing fleet (retrofitting). Access to private and public financing and innovation schemes for both small and large shipowners are preconditions for realising sustainable seagoing vessels. This concerns new-buildings as well as retrofitting existing ships. 

Expansion of EU ETS is essential

"For the transition to a sustainable fleet, broadening European climate regulations to all sea-going cargo ships from 400 GT and above is essential. We also plead to extend the regulations to offshore work ships. Currently, the Fit for 55 measures apply to ships of 5,000 GT and above. 
However, we see that a significant proportion of the 13,410 European sea-going ships fall precisely in the 400-5,000GT category (chart 2). This creates a two-tier market, which is not desirable."

- Nick Lurkin, KVNR-Policy Officer Climate & Envrionment

Supply chain approach increases impact

In the development of workable regulations on international responsible business conduct, it is essential to ensure European harmonisation without allowing room for national deviations. In addition, the EU, together with Member States, will also have to develop a renewed bunkering infrastructure to ensure availability of various renewable fuels and alternative energy carriers. This involves dealing with enormous volumes. 

Chart 3 below shows how much marine fuel has been sold in the Port of Rotterdam alone over the past five years. LNG is shown separately in the overview as a fossil fuel because of its climate performance compared to other fossil fuels. The energy density of alternative fuels is significantly lower than fossil fuels, which means that a significant amount of work still needs to be done. 

Illustration: Overview of marine bunkers sold by fuel type in the port of Rotterdam.