Own agenda for shipping approved – promotion programs announced
Shipbuilding and shipping companies can hope for increased support from the Federal Government. This was assured by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Federal Minister of Economics Brigitte Zypries as well as Federal Minister of Transport Alexander Dobrindt at the 10th National Maritime Conference. To an audience of around 700 representatives, they announced a series of research and funding programs to keep Germany’s maritime location internationally competitive. The focus is on technical areas, which are among the most important future topics of the German Dry Docks Group.
With the “Maritime Agenda 2025”, adopted shortly before the conference, the Federal Government underlines the economic importance of the maritime sector for Germany. With around 2800 mostly medium-sized companies, 400,000 employees and an annual turnover of around 50 billion euros, the shipping industry is one of the strongest economic sectors in Germany, with a large number of suppliers ranging from the coast far into the south of the Federal Republic.
In its agenda, the Federal Government describes the main development targets for the focus areas of the maritime industry, i.e. for shipping, shipyards, ports and technologies employed there. Special attention is paid to digitalization, energy efficiency and environmental protection. In the coming months, the relevant ministries intend to determine the need for funding and then develop specific financial programs.
One of the key aspects of the Maritime Agenda addresses the core issues of GDD, marine technology and drive systems. This includes, inter alia, the increased use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in German shipping. As a pilot and demonstration project, the Federal Ministry of Economics promotes, among other things, the conversion of a container feeder to LNG propulsion, to begin at GDD in May.
With the “Innovative Shipbuilding secures competitive jobs” program, the Federal Government wants to support additional innovation activities for shipbuilding, ship repair or conversion in merchant ships as well as for floating or mobile offshore structures. In this area too, GDD can already point to a number of successful projects in the past. A prerequisite for participation in the new funding programs is that these product or process innovations are used in the EU industrially for the first time.
However, the shipping companies must also prepare themselves for the fact that the political pressure for them to act, in particular with regard to environmental protection, is growing. Among other things, the Federal Government intends to support the designation of further marine reserves (ECAs) both within the EU and internationally. In addition to the announced financial support, legal requirements for the introduction of new fuels and propulsion systems are not excluded. The political scope for action of national governments, however, is limited here. Nevertheless, the Federal Government intends to urge the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to determine the contribution of shipping to the reduction of greenhouse gases.
There will be no exceptions for federally owned ships. Both maritime vessels and, for example, the fleet of the water and shipping administrations are to be increasingly upgraded to low-emission, efficient engines.