The Integrated Maritime Policy of the European Union is a relatively new European policy aiming at guaranteeing the sustainable use of the oceans and seas while enabling maritime economies to grow and coastal communities to thrive. The European Commission's main thrust in this respect will be delivered through the adoption of a Communication on Blue Growth at the end of 2012.
By Blue Growth we mean sustainable growth based on marine resources. It is the growth – and the jobs - that may come tomorrow if today we carry out the right scientific and economic activities in established or emerging maritime sectors.
We have launched a comprehensive analysis of the future sources of maritime growth. A number of emerging sectors are studied in depth, taking into account their present state of technological development, as well as their future potential. In 2012 the Commission will outline the most important growth scenarios and the domains where the EU can help unlock their full potential. The Blue Growth strategy will recommend actions with regard to skills, research and capital that are needed to develop Europe's maritime economy. It will also point out actions on the regulatory barriers that hinder this growth.
Moreover, three cross-cutting tools are being developed within the Integrated Maritime Policy. These will provide further impetus to the overall growth of the maritime economy and particularly benefit the transport sector.
The first, Maritime Spatial Planning, enables to manage marine areas, resources and ecosystems in a coherent and sustainable way. Good Spatial Planning will lower legal and administrative costs for all users of the marine space.
Through the second, Marine Knowledge 2020, we want to assemble Europe's fragmented marine knowledge base into a common system. Τhis will foster growth in the private sector and facilitate innovation in public administrations.
And finally with Integrated Maritime Surveillance, we are shaping up a system for the various public bodies to share information, communicate with each other and efficiently cope with real-time events. This will avoid costly and unnecessary duplications of both policing and rescue operations at sea.
I believe shipping is the express lane to a stable development of our European economy. The Commission is well aware of this crucial fact and has always taken it into account in its policy making. We want to go further in promoting maritime investments and in underpinning the strengths of emerging maritime sectors. Most recently, we adopted the new White Paper on Transport, which again sets ambitious goals for the EU's transport sector, including of course maritime transport.
We are committed to greener shipping and maintain that the future of the European shipping industry cannot be defined by lower costs, but must be defined by the best service and performance.
Today, investing in energy-efficient ships must be a priority, also because of the pressing climate issues. The best environmental technology still comes from European manufacturers; so we need an equally clear commitment from European ship owners that their investment decisions give priority to long-term operating costs rather than initial capital expenditure. This way European Union shipbuilding industry will regain a great potential for new growth and jobs.
We still need to explore whether we cannot make a much better business case for European shipping, for example by rolling out LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) as fuel in European short sea shipping or by clever emission gases market based instruments, applied irrespective of the ship's flag, that reward ships and ship operations with a small CO2 footprint.
A crucial dimension of our Blue Growth strategy has to do with the human capital. Sustainable maritime growth can only be realised if the adequate workforce is available. For maritime industries to bring new jobs there should be enough people with the right training, qualifications, skills and experience. Today, maritime industries can not find enough skilled people to employ. This situation is not acceptable when Europe suffers from high levels of unemployment. The lack of attractiveness of maritime careers not only limits growth in traditional sectors, but delays the emergence of new industries and new opportunities. Following up on studies and debates, European Commission wants to extend the existing best practices all over Europe. If we want to attract people, in particular young people, to maritime careers and keep them in these careers, this requires a joint effort with from maritime industries and education.
In conclusion, I cannot overstress this: the future of the European maritime transport industry has to be sustainable and this future can be delivered through Blue Growth. Only this way will we create new opportunities for sustainable development and for new employment in this vital sector.