What we stand for
The objectives of the European Network of Maritime Clusters are simple: to promote and reinforce the European maritime sector and the maritime economy as a whole. This has been done by setting up a network, still rather informal, which will create a link, to be reinforced year after year, between national cluster organizations.
The purpose of this Network is to put the entirety of the European maritime cluster on the map. The size and the interrelation of the maritime sub-sectors should be clearly expressed, and the Network provides a platform from which joint activities can be started and developed. The Network should however not replace the maritime associations which have essential specific responsibilities and historic lobbying structures well in place and are necessary for their members in many respects, for instance in the social fields. Yet, the network may become the channel through which trade organizations may - at least indirectly - be jointly active and support each other in their common lobbying matters. Apart from this, the Network could provide the necessary knowledge to underpin the sector needs.
Acting jointly one day in a real European cluster means that it will be easier to draw EU authorities’ attention and, as a consequence, to deliver a general and common message. On the other hand authorities (start to) realize that individual sector policies might conflict with each other and that a more integrated approach should be preferred as stated in the blue book “An Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union”.
The Network can contribute to this integrated approach:
a. by pushing the national clusters to gather the various maritime sectors of their respective countries
b. by bringing really representative national clusters together by then
c. By giving a homogenous presentation of each national cluster (common criteria, coherent turnover and employment data, i.e. comparable scope, number and type of each member-entity etc.).
1/ Identification of what the maritime sector represents in Europe as a whole, by subsector and by country. In fact, it is the starting point of all future actions and illustration of the importance of the maritime reality. It is a necessary tool. Now, we have approximate, non-scientific, vague and often partial figures at our disposal.
At the present time, the French Maritime Cluster estimates that eight countries (The United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands and Denmark) represent 1’800’000 jobs and an added value of 161 billion EUR. The figures may be more or less true for that sample, but it is impossible to use it because the evaluation methods are quite different in each country.
2/ Once we have this, promotion and spreading the data regarding the European maritime sector to ensure its due consideration in Brussels.
3/ At the same time, reinforcing of the ENMC to increase its influence and be sure that economic maritime concerns in the broader sense are taken into account. In the short term, the ENMC could coordinate the simultaneous issue of position papers in each country, concerted lobbying campaigns…
4/ In the long run, we could imagine the possibility of the ENMC being raised to a federation of national Clusters, in other words a real European Maritime Cluster – unlike the current loose confederation – and acting by proxy in definite matters.
1/ The European Union should make available adequate funding to identify what the maritime sector is worth as a whole and by subsector. Each year, millions of Euros are spent for numerous studies: it is lost money we are not afraid to say this! This is only possible by adding national figures on a common basis. It is a complex, long-lasting and costly field of investigation. The competent Cabinet will have to set acceptable and for everyone fair criteria, and then cross-check the transmitted data. It is a priority in the general interest of the European Union – the dawning of a century looming to be the most maritime of Mankind’s History regarding globalization.
What we partially, but certainly, know is interesting but not exploitable. It simply indulges our vanity. The European Union is one of the global maritime players (huge Exclusive Economic Zones, 40% of the world tonnage, important ship owners in all the businesses, major shipbuilding with high added value, mighty offshore industry, oceanographic research etc.) but this power remains virtual and cannot be really organized as long as it has not been identified.
2/ The European Commission at its highest level has to be more attentive to maritime concerns. The Commissioners are mostly unapproachable with the exception of Mrs. Damanaki, who has made much appreciated efforts by welcoming representatives in Brussels and visiting them at regular intervals.
3/ According to the willingness for an integrated maritime policy, the European Union should look for dialogue with the clusters, which by the way, try – sometimes - to integrate the approaches. Furthermore, the Commission stressed the necessity to create Clusters in the Green Book preceding the Blue Book on maritime policy.
4/ The European Commission should keep its sights on the fact that “sustainability” and “development” are closely linked and that they have to be permanently balanced, just as freedom and regulation, protection of future generations and safeguarding the present should be.