At the time this project was carried out there was a growing imbalance between modes of transport in the European Union. The success of road and air transport resulted in ever-worsening congestion while failures to exploit the full potential of rail and short sea shipping, and in general of intermodal transport, impeded the development of real alternatives to road haulage. That situation, and its trend, which was forecast to push even more in this unsustainable direction, was leading to an uneven balance of modes on the main Trans-European network corridors.
90% of the EU external trade and 41% of the intra-EU trade in volume are transported by sea. Short sea shipping has shown an increase in growth rates over the last years, but it still offers an even larger capacity that should be exploited to re-balance the different transport modes.
In the light of the European Union's transport white paper of 2001, the Maritime Transport Coordination Platform (MTCP) was established to address the need to enhance the relevance of Europe's maritime research and education to matters of maritime policy related to sustainable surface transport, European competitiveness and safe, secure and efficient operation of maritime transport.
The MTCP was created in response to the DG TREN's call for Sustainable Surface Transport SUSTDEV-2002-188.8.131.52.12.
The technical objectives of the platform were to produce high quality, policy relevant, reports, specifications, forecasts, standard methodologies, decision support tools and information products.
Around fifteen targeted policy support studies addressing particular policy issues were undertaken during the 3 years of the MTCP. These studies, which will support the Commission's declared maritime transport priorities for the next decade, fall into the following categories:
- development and attractiveness of maritime transport (quality and efficiency);
- safety, security and environmental impact;
- maritime human resource in Europe (concerns on lack of future maritime human resource in Europe).
The MTCP set out to develop a Maritime Transport Sector Observatory (MTSO) to provide access to knowledge and data. This will be an integrating resource that will allow better use to be made of EU, national and other investments in data, information, research results and technical developments. Associated with the MTSO services is the provision of experts for short-term support to DG TREN.
The concept of the platform is a managed activity open to a wide range of European organisations. The activities and the membership have both fixed elements (for continuity) and flexible, adaptive parts in order to respond to changing policy imperatives over the life of the coordination action. A key feature is the engagement of stakeholders from customers, industry and government. General coverage of maritime transport was to be achieved by seven expert groups spanning the domain, reviewing developments, forecasting for their area and recommending areas that need deeper study in support of policy.
The concept of the platform is a managed activity open to a wide range of European organisations. The activities and the membership have both fixed elements (for continuity) and flexible, adaptive parts in order to respond to changing policy imperatives over the life of the coordination action. A key feature is the engagement of stakeholders from customers, industry and government. General coverage of maritime transport was achieved by seven expert groups spanning the domain, reviewing developments, forecasting for their area and recommending areas that need deeper study in support of policy (30% of budget). Targeted policy support studies addressing particular policy issues (15 studies over 3 years) were undertaken.
A comprehensive stakeholder engagement and dissemination programme provided effective access to the results and, critically, an important feedback into the conduct of the platform during its life.
The general results of the MTCP are:
- the development of a flexible coordination platform, which offers support to DG Tren, and decision makers (e.g. in policy), who need quick access to actual, relevant and reliable information to base their decisions upon;
- 18 short policy relevant studies;
- the creation of Expert Groups, which have highlighted emerging issues within their areas of specialisation;
- the development of the MTSO (Maritime Transport Sector Observatory), accessible by both the public and the Commission, which is focussed on the provision of knowledge and experts on maritime transports, and information about the MTCP studies.
For what concern the short policy relevant studies the main results are the following.
1) Maritime Insurance for 3rd Party Liability
By far the largest providers of Third Party Liability Insurance in the Marine Field are the Protection and Indemnity Clubs (P&I Clubs), which are an integral part of the shipping industry. They are mutual insurance associations, owned by the shipowners who are also their insured Members. The Clubs exist solely to provide these shipowner Members with liability cover and attendant services.
The mutuality status is the cornerstone of marine P&I insurance, but as a business model, it is relatively rare in today's commercial world. Mutuality in the P&I industry can be summarised as follows:
- Mutuality spreads the costs of large claims (a P&I Club does not get wiped out by one very large claim);
- Mutuality shares the risks with other, similar organisations – even with competitors;
- P&I Clubs are owned by their Members seeking to protect the interests of their Members, who are also the ultimate decision makers;
- P&I Clubs provide insurance at costs (making no proper profits or losses, but rather giving funds for rainy days);
- Mutuality requires common quality criteria and norms;
- Mutuality is about long-term benefits rather than short-term profits;
- Each Member of a Mutual Club has a close interest in maintenance of quality.
Three important aspects of the Mutual P&I Clubs, as providers of Third Party Liability insurance, separate them from commercial insurance providers:
- The Omnibus Clause which gives the Clubs the flexibility to cover their Members for claims which are incidental to shipowning – even if such claims are not specifically
The studies carried out led the experts to make the following recommendations.
Impact of Maritime State Aid
It is necessary and possible, in principle, to ensure that the various maritime aid schemes in existence – and any future aid schemes – are able to be monitored and assessed by a common methodology applied uniformly across the EU.
Further work should be commissioned in all Member States that have not already done so to establish both maritime cluster relationships and to evaluate, via econometric studies, the economic impact of Maritime State Aids. The cost could be shared between the Member State and the European Commission.
Study on Enforcement of Maritime Labour Standards on Board Ships in EU Member States through Port State Control
The MTCP fieldwork was only a scoping study and needs to be further developed. The methodology of the study – shadowing of inspections and interviews with a range of industry stakeholders – offers both an ideal study design and the prospect of ready-made comparator data.
In view of the interest in moving towards a more checklist-based approach, it would be valuable to include the US Coastguard, or one of the South American countries, among the sample of inspection regimes to be researched in a future comparative study.
Short training courses should be developed for inspectors to elicit and investigate crew complaints in ways which prevent subsequent crew victimisation.
Discussions should be held with the relevant authorities to develop International Safety Management (ISM) systems on labour standards (including the prevention, detection and relief of seafarer fatigue) and encouragement should be given to inspectors to sample the operation of such systems in the course of inspections.
More active consideration should be given to methods for reducing inconsistency in inspection practice, since inconsistency both undermines the integrity of the Paris MoU targeting system, and has a corrosive effect on industry confidence in the integrity of the inspection process, inhibiting active industry compliance with standards.
Study on Involvement of Humans in Maritime Accidents
It should be considered to recommend regular and repeated training of ships’ officers on handling of emergency situations in interaction with the shore side emergency organisation. A study to investigate the feasibility of this proposal is recommended.