In their meeting on 2 April, ECSA’s Board of Directors thanks all maritime professionals across the whole shipping industry for their dedication and sacrifices made to continue the supply of goods and equipment and the necessary transport services to millions of citizens currently affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“European shipping has reached a breaking point,” said Claes Berglund, ECSA´s President. “On the surface, trade  continues to flow. Below the surface, our crews are being challenged enormously.”

“Furthermore, financing really needs to be kept open for shipping companies in order for them to cope with immediate liquidity problems to avoid redundancies, to help refinance their loans, or have the possibility to suspend their loan instalments and interest, and in parallel extend the term of their loans. Without the authorities and banks stepping in on this, many companies will not survive the crisis and Europe’s share of global shipping is going to plunge.”

“One of the hardest-hit segments is passenger transport. Maritime passenger transport has always served Europeans living on islands or in coastal regions. For them, it is their daily mode of transport for work, life and trade. Many of our companies are currently downsizing to sustain their business. These essential services will disappear, if nothing is done to save them,” Mr Berglund continued.

The ECSA Board thanks the EU institutions for all the work being done to support the industry in dealing with the economic, operational and social implications of this pandemic through a number of initiatives announced. However, the Board is of the opinion that more sector-specific actions are needed to really sustain the industry through this crisis and help it to recover as soon as possible.

The Board also noted that ECSA will continue to work with its social partner the ETF in seeking Member States’ support to adopting a common, coordinated approach, so that rules and requirements are the same for all companies and the workers are afforded the necessary protections.

The Board also welcomed the support the maritime industry has received from the European Parliament – in particular the personal engagement shown by the President and pledges of support from the different political groups, including the EPP, S&D and Renew Europe. It welcomed in particular Renew Europe’s proposal for a rescue and recovery plan specific for the maritime sector, so as to support the different players in the European maritime cluster.

ECSA considers that this unprecedented crisis requires unprecedented reactions. For Europe to ensure the survival of its strategically important maritime industry, more concerted and targeted actions will be required. It therefore calls on all the European institutions to swiftly adopt a targeted rescue and recovery plan for the maritime sector.