Trading places

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche

15 December 2016


Yesterday’s decision by the European Parliament to seek to include shipping into the EU Emissions Trading Scheme is a further example of how the EU constantly manages to hamstring shipping companies that are located in EU member states. The vote in the parliament, which was in defiance of that body’s own Industrial Committee, decided that shipping should be forced into the scheme by 2023 if there is no decision by the IMO to initiate emission trading on a global scale by 2021. The decision has been called short-sighted by some industry bodies including the Danish Shipowners’ Association. “By calling for an ETS for shipping in case no international system operates by 2021, my colleagues have unfortunately chosen to cave in to regionalism and ignore the long-term impact for European growth and the environment. With only a small part of global shipping touching EU ports, ETS will miss the intended climate target and runs the risk of derailing the IMO process.”, said Bendt Bendtsen (EPP, DK), Member of the Industry Committee. Bendtsen went on to say that the decision may well lead to cargo being transhipped outside of Europe with direct impacts on European employment. This is a very likely scenario given that Maersk now has three terminals in North Africa from where transhipment of cargo from any point of origin in the world could take place. The Danish owner has already been reported as being ready to make more use of its terminals in the future. There is also the very real possibility of more business being lost by EU ports if the UK decides to abandon what EU regulation it has already written into domestic law following the eventual departure from the EU. Much has been said about the EU being able to attract investment and jobs away from the UK after Brexit but they may not have thought through that UK ports could become hubs taking business away from Rotterdam and Hamburg or that shipowners now based in the EU may consider switching flags and sailing under the union jack in future.