The first official Press Conference presenting «Europa Ship Plan: The latest developments in the renewal of the Short Sea Shipping fleet” was held on May 20, 2016, at the premises of the Hellenic Short Sea Ship-owners Association (HSSA).
The purpose of the conference was to inform the stakeholders about the developments of the Europa Ship Plan, an initiative of HSSA, which was first presented onboard the historic “SS Hellas Liberty”, on Friday, 20th November 2015, gathering over a hundred participants and attendees from the European Commission, Ship-owners, Member States, Governmental organizations, LNG Industry stakeholders, financial institutions (commercial Banks and Shipping funds), as well as other members of the Shipping and Energy Community.
The President of HSSA Mr. Haralampos Simantonis in his opening speech referred to the feasibility of the project, emphasizing on the requirements arising from the new environmental regulations and the need for immediate adaptation of the European fleet, as a precondition for the smooth transition of the shipping industry to the new conditions. Furthermore, Mr. Simantonis focused on the process of accessing the financing mechanism, stressing out that it is related to loans and not grants. He stated that this mechanism will be open and accessible to all stakeholders, as the selection of the ship-owners participating in the project will take place based on financial criteria, while respective guarantees will be provided by the EIB.
Mr. Michael Sakellis, president of the Association of Greek Passenger Shipping Companies (SEEN), focused on the insularity of Greece and stressed that there is a constant need for renewal of the fleet, not only for the compliance of ships with the new environmental regulations, but also for the optimization of competitiveness of our international services and for the operational capacity of coastal shipping to serve the cohesion of the country. Furthermore, he noted that this project is the solution to the problem of building ships to be used exclusively in the lines of public interest.
Afterwards, Mr. Zacharioudakis CEO of Europa Venture Ltd, highlighted the delay in shipbuilding that leads to an increase in the average age of European short sea fleet and consequently constituting more and more urgent the need for both new buildings and retrofits. In addition, Mr. Zacharioudakis presented the special purpose company that is set up to serve the materialization of the project, the process of participation and the funding conditions.
Mr. Carl Carlsson, CEO of Zero Vision Tool (ZVT), the respective initiative implemented by the Association of Ship-owners in Sweden, reported on the experience gained by the implementation of twenty investment projects, new green buildings and retrofits, and stressed that this would not have been possible without the support of the EU. He emphasized on the environmental and social benefits of the implemented programs and pointed out the need for wider cooperation.
Finally Mr. Anselmo, Special Advisor for the Motorways of the Sea, stated that the problem of the renewal is not only Greek but also European. He highlighted that the challenge is the achievement of cooperation between the various partners in the shipping industry and the European Union, in order to reach a comprehensive solution. Mr. Anselmo stressed that the Europa Ship Plan and Zero Vision Tool are two golden examples in this direction and their philosophy has been incorporated in the Detailed Implementation Plan of Motorways of Sea, which will be submitted for voting in the European Parliament, and is expected to designate the respective policies by 2020.
The Europa Ship Plan and Zero Vision Tool have a common goal -the renewal of the Shortsea fleet- and their joint actions contribute to this direction.