Europe finalises FuelEU maritime proposals

'Historic deal' brings in demand for ships to use green fuels and shore side electricity

While the IMO’s intercessional meeting in London laboured over the detail of a revised global shipping decarbonisation strategy, Europe has taken even more regulatory steps to force change.


The latest development is the finalisation of the Fuel EU Maritime directive, which will sit alongside the renewable fuel directive and shipping’s introduction into the regional emission trading scheme.


The forward momentum that the European Union is showing will undoubtedly add pressure on the IMO talks, as well as increase speculation of whether the EU regulatory momentum will be in parallel to that being seen in the US and China, and thus form a patchwork of pressures that in itself encompasses the majority of shipping well ahead of any IMO goal.

FuelEU Maritime

The latest development is the provisional agreement between the European Council and the European Parliament reached on the FuelEU maritime proposal.


Having reached provisional agreement on an amended text it is set to be submitted to the Council for formal agreement by the Swedish presidency as well as be accepted by the Commission and Parliament.

European shipowners, through ECSA, issued a cautious welcome to the latest developments saying that “the agreement gives a strong political signal and provides clear climate targets and guidance for the industry as regards the fuels that may be used towards the energy transition of the sector”.


It also said more deeds to be done to help secure future fuel access.


“We need all hands on deck and, in particular, more robust requirements for fuel suppliers to deliver the clean fuels needed. We call on the Parliament and the Council to support binding targets on suppliers for clean marine fuels in the revised Renewable Energy Directive (RED). FuelEU Maritime, together with RED and the ETS revenues used to bridge the price gap with clean fuels, can put shipping on the right energy transition path”, said Sotiris Raptis, ECSA’s Secretary General.



The latest amendments have also been welcomed by environmental groups. While stating that the EU rules still have a number of loopholes, Faig Abbasov at green lobby group Transport and environment wrote:


“Historic deal! Ships travelling to/from/within Europe will be required to increasingly run on green fuels, including green hydrogen-based fuels (RFNBO). Still lots of loopholes to fix and gaps to fill, but this decision marks a “#Tesla-moment” for shipping’s technological transition! Fossil industry’s technology neutrality narrative is dead! Long live (the beginning of) technology clarity for ships. This is the beginning of the end of dirty shipping!”

The changes from an earlier draft include the following (extracted from the European Council announcement):


  • Introducing time limited exceptions for the specific treatment of the outermost regions, small islands, and areas economically highly dependent on their connectivity
  • Introducing reduction factors for ice classed ships, as well as ships navigating in ice
  • Increasing the reduction targets for the greenhouse gas intensity of energy used on board by ships as from 1 January 2035 and introducing measures to encourage the use of the so-called renewable fuels of non biological origin (RFNBO)
  • Amending the requirements for on-shore power supply (OPS) and provisions relating to zero-emission technologies based on the underlying principle that the system should be coherent with the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR)
  • Excluding fossil fuels from the certification process when it comes to the certification of fuels but also improving the provision to make the process more future proof
  • Amending the provisions on revenues generated from the penalties under the FuelEU regulation and their allocation to projects to support decarbonisation of the maritime sector with an enhanced transparency mechanism
  • Further specifying the Commission’s obligations to monitor the implementation of the regulation in the relevant report and review clause.

Yes to nuclear no to nuclear

In another political twist to the story about green electricity and green hydrogen, the European Commission recently agreed that nuclear power derived electricity could be labelled green. But now a letter to the Commission by ministers of seven EU countries shows the deep rift in this fuels acceptance and its likely contribution to generation of enough green hydrogen.


A joint ministerial letter from Austria, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain on the Renewable Energy Directive and Article 8a of the Gas Directive stated that they were not in favour with proposals from group of pro-nuclear countries led by France to label nuclear derived energy as green.

Anti-greenwashing law

Additionally Brussels has also developed new proposals to tackle corporate greenwashing. Claims such as net zero and carbon neutral will need to be substantiated and a distinction made between a company’s own decarbonisation efforts and the gains made by offsetting.


Share article:

Dedicated topic pages >>

Other news >>


Stay On Top Of The Transformation Of The Shipping And Maritime Sectors With Our Weekly Email Newsletter.