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Coordinated Research and Innovation for zero-emission waterborne transport as part of the European Green Deal

Press Release: The Waterborne Technology Platform has been informed that on 24 October 2019, the European Commission and Member States approved in principle the establishment of a co-programmed partnership zero-emission waterborne transport in the framework of Horizon Europe (the EU’s future research and innovation programme). This partnership is key as it will allow the strategic European waterborne transport sector to develop knowledge, technologies and solutions that will enable zero emission shipping for all ship types and ship services, in line with the Green Deal for Europe, i.e. European Commission’s top priority.

Within the Green Deal for Europe, the greening of waterborne transport (i.e. shipping and inland navigation) will take a central place. This ambition is fully in line with the target of Europe’s waterborne transport sector to transform waterborne transport into a zero-emission mode of transport as from 2030 onwards. This transformation will be urgent, not only to meet the political and societal expectations but also to avoid a further increase of emissions if nothing is done. Research, development and innovation will thereby be essential tools to develop and produce innovative and zero-emission ships as well as maritime equipment, technologies and systems.

Due to its diversification, characterised with different ship types (both cargo ships and passenger vessels) operating on different ship trades (inland navigation, cabotage, intra-EU traffic, short sea shipping and transatlantic voyages), there is no one-size fits all solution for zero-emission waterborne transport. Nor will there be a golden bullet to defossilise the sector. However, the co-programmed partnership on zeroemission waterborne transport will enable the sector to adopt a coordinated approach to timely develop and produce the necessary products, technologies and energy carriers for zero-emission waterborne transport.

In a first reaction, the Chairman of the Waterborne Technology Platform, Henk Prins, said:

“The Waterborne Technology Platform is fully committed to transform the waterborne transport sector into a zero-emission mode of transport. The partnership is therefore a very welcome instrument to ensure coordination amongst the various stakeholders of the European waterborne transport sector and to realize zero-emission waterborne transport as soon as possible. The partnership will enable the sector to speed up the necessary investments in Research, Development and Innovation, beyond the investments already done by the sector itself.

The selection of this partnership is also a recognition from the European Commission and the Member States that both maritime and inland waterway transport, as well as its shipyards, manufacturers, suppliers and the broader waterborne community, are of strategic importance for Europe.

I now call upon the entire European waterborne transport sector to join forces and to jointly pave the way towards zero-emission waterborne transport. We collectively need to deliver upon the expectations of the European Commission and Member States, as well as of Europe’s citizens. But I am confident that we are all fully committed and will do so”, Mr. Prins concluded.

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