Brussels: Smarter, better and complimentary legislation. That’s what European shipowners want from politicians and regulators, according to Thomas Rehder, chairman of the powerful European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA).
Speaking to Maritime CEO, Rehder says that 2016 will be a vital moment for shipping in Europe.
“We shall try to go up very much with the European Commission for Transportation for the maritime year that we will have next year. That means that we are trying to provide contributions to the maritime strategy for the short sea shipping market, but also for the employment, for the pressing issue of making shipping more competitive and we want to have smart legislation because smart legislation means no overlap by different laws and rules,” underlines Rehder. “We must avoid counterproductive effects as we have seen in the case of ballast water treatment.”
The European Commission has declared 2016 as the year for maritime agenda. Rehder’s wish list starts with the tonnage tax regime, which he wants to get OSVs more involved in.
ECSA’s chairman goes on underlining that there is one field which is, in many ways, at the core of the European agenda: short sea shipping. “There is a lot that can be done to make short sea shipping a real tool for the single market. Regulations from shipping companies do not only come from governments or public authorities, we have to deal also with unions, we have to deal with public monopolies, pilots and other situations that actually distort competition, that distort a fair global and regional market situation. Our industry has to deal also with internal competition that many times is politically protected between different modes of transportation: I’m speaking of road transportation,” he says.
Looking at the main challenges European shipowners are facing nowadays, the head of ECSA speaks about the poor freight rate environment, and more specifically about tonnage oversupply in some segments.
“In the containership business there are so many large container vessels deployed by the lines in a situation where the volumes are dropping,” he says, adding: “There are challenges in the field of finance. Because the banks are under pressure, they are still in a financial crisis. We are all suffering from the financial crisis that the banks are going through.”
The short sea crisis is affecting most European lines in similar ways. “Since we are part of the same markets, we are all subject to the same troubles and in every country there are some companies that have special segments that make them less dependent from general market tramps. But by and large I think we are all seeing the same problems,” Rehder says.
The chairman of the European shipowners also highlighted that 40% of shipping worldwide is controlled by EU companies. Furthermore the total economic impact of shipping in Europe is €147bn and all together there are 2.2m jobs connected to shipping across the continent.
Rehder is managing partner at Hamburg’s Carsten Rehder, where he also became responsible for the shipowning side of the business in 1996. Carsten Rehder presently operates 25 container vessels and five bulk carriers.