CLIA European Summit, Paris 2023 

How Europe can lead the way in technology development and maritime excellence

Paris, 9 March 2023

CLIA Global Chairman, Pierfrancesco Vago opened the European Summit on Thursday morning, underlining the maritime technology industry’s central role in European clean tech and industrial innovation towards net zero.

Mesdames et Messieurs,

Bienvenus au Sommet européen de CLIA.

C’est pour moi un grand plaisir et privilège de vous accueillir ici à Paris.

La France a une place spéciale pour notre industrie.

Le pays mène le développement de nos activités, que ce soit en étant leader dans la construction navale grâce à son savoir-faire industriel exceptionnel ou grâce à son rôle d’innovateur dans le secteur.

La France est aussi pionnière en matière de transition énergétique.

Nous avons récemment signé la Charte Croisière Durable.

Cette Charte est inédite au niveau mondial, non seulement par le champ de l’accord couvert, mais aussi par le caractère volontaire de ces mesures que l’ensemble des membres de la CLIA a décidé de porter.

Tous ces éléments rendent notre présence aujourd’hui à Paris fondamentale.

And now, let me switch to English for our international guests.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure and a privilege to welcome you to Paris in such a prestigious venue. 

To kick off the day, I should like to share some thoughts to set the scene for what I hope will be a fruitful day of discussions.

European shipbuilding is truly at the heart of clean tech and industrial innovation.

Let me tell you why.

93% of the world’s ocean-going cruise ships are built in Europe.

As ship construction moved East in the past decades, European shipyards were able to retain this crucial segment of shipbuilding and economic impact that it generates.

Today, we are making significant investments to introduce innovations that will deliver a zero-carbon future.

We are equipping our ships with the latest technologies including fuel cells, batteries, and new propulsion solutions.

While also supporting the development of sustainable marine fuels.

By 2028, there will be 38 latest-generation cruise ships powered by LNG amongst the fleets belonging to CLIA members.

While still fossil, this transitional fuel brings immediate environmental benefits.

LNG engines are also helping us test, deploy and scale non-fossil based synthetic and bio forms of LNG that will help us advance towards a net zero-carbon future.

Investments are also being made to reduce emissions while ships are in port to benefit local communities.

85% of cruise ships coming online between now and 2028 will be able to connect to shore power.

The drive to futureproof our sector brings social and economic benefits across Europe.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the cruise industry even in 2021 added over 40 billion euros to Europe’s economy, supporting more than three hundred thousand jobs across the Continent.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the cruise industry even in 2021 added over 40 billion euros to Europe’s economy, supporting more than three hundred thousand jobs across the Continent.

Pierfrancesco Vago, CLIA Global Chairman

This was during a period when passenger volumes were drastically reduced.

It was the strong relationship between the cruise industry and European shipyards that allowed us to continue generating economic value during this challenging period.

But there is more to come.

62 more cruise ships are on order for the next five years, representing a 40 billion euros direct investment in Europe.

Cruise ship building represents around 80% of the order book of shipyards in Europe. 

This is one of the backbones of Europe’s industry, and is important that this is fully appreciated.

Over and above the emissions reductions there is a huge amount that we already do onboard our vessels that people are not aware of:

In addition to environmental innovation, we bring the same approach to our ashore operations. Not only when it comes to the mobility of our passengers but also specifically how we handle their flow into the cities that our ships visit. To ensure minimal impact to the communities that live there while preserving opportunities for positive economic impact.

Yet, we are still seeing misrepresentation of our industry and this is why it is important for us to be here today to have an opportunity to explain how we operate.

And it is this approach, both in terms of environmental technology and management of our operations ashore, that actually makes cruising a far more sustainable form of tourism than many other forms of holiday.

Shipbuilding is – as I mentioned earlier – one of the key industrial sectors that positions Europe as a global leader.

As a hub for shipbuilding and advanced maritime equipment manufacturing, our industry benefits Europe’s maritime resilience and strategic maritime autonomy.

Today is therefore an important moment as Europe’s shipping associations come together to stress the urgency of supporting the continued growth of flagship industries like shipbuilding and defend their strategic know how – which in this case, goes well beyond cruise shipbuilding.

The EU’s ambition is for Europe to be the home of industrial innovation on the road to net zero.

The European Commission set out a vision to become the first carbon neutral continent with its Green Deal.

It then developed the regulatory framework to support this with the Fit for 55 Package.

But regulatory requirements alone will not suffice to achieve this.

Industry overall is important to the economy of Europe. This is why the entire industrial complex here in France and across the rest of Europe has a critical role to play in our response to the climate challenge.

The Commission recognised this last month with its Green Deal Industrial Plan, which aims to enhance Europe’s industrial competitiveness and manufacturing capacity in the transition to climate neutrality.

Our industry welcomes the Commission’s steps to boost investment and financing of cleantech production.

And the prospect for a regulatory environment that allows for fast scalability and conducive conditions for sectors that are crucial to reaching net zero. 

But we must acknowledge that the EU is no longer alone in seeking to unlock a carbon neutral future.

Some of Europe’s biggest partners are seizing net-zero industrial opportunities and stepping up the game with highly ambitious industrial policy proposals.

In the US, the Inflation Reduction Act will notably mobilize 370 billion dollars to accelerate private investment in clean energy.

Japan and other economies are following similar paths.

The cruise industry welcomes this renewed global focus in the acceleration of clean technologies.

Also, here in Europe, we must ensure that the right framework is in place for private companies to drive this transition.

The Commission’s proposal does provide a response to these initiatives.

It brings opportunities for Europe to maintain its position as a global leader in complex shipbuilding.

And here I want to pause and reiterate that cruising, which only represents 3% of CO2 emissions from the maritime sector, is spearheading innovation for the entire maritime industry and well beyond it, benefiting civil society

And we need to develop a maritime industrial strategy that upholds this industrial success.

But make no mistake: Europe still risks getting caught on the wrong foot.

Let me illustrate this with an example from my own cruise line, MSC Cruises.

When conceiving MSC World Europa, we set out to test how solid oxide fuel cell technology could function on a cruise ship.

Despite numerous attempts, we were not successful in finding a partner anywhere in Europe for this technology.

And were left with no option but to team up with a company based in California.

Based on all the above, I want to highlight the importance of taxonomy to ensure  innovation can continue to receive the financing it needs.

It is critical that sustainable finance criteria recognise our industry’s role in this process.

Without this, access to funding for sustainable shipbuilding cannot be ensured.

In the current climate, it is becoming more challenging to secure funding from financial institutions to build the next generation ships that allow us to test and roll out continuously improving environmental technologies for our industry..

Most important in all this is the role of credit export agencies, they need to be able to do their job.

Let me remind you all we have already lost the bulk of our shipbuilding industry to Asia, and Europe now risks losing complex shipbuilding too.

Today, as countries across the world set out to build their cleantech capabilities, the EU must ensure that the right conditions are in place for these industries to flourish here.

The EU Green Deal Industrial Plan risks being too little, too late.

And yet, the Commission’s proposal recognises that industry has the ingenuity and the skills base to solve the climate challenge.

This is a very important first step in the right direction, but the EU is still not receptive to hearing our voice and understanding the unique contributions the cruise industry makes.

I am calling on everyone here to take onboard my message, this is a wake-up call we need to be heard across all the European institutions.

And today I am  glad  that later we will announce that CLIA and SEA Europe will be making a joint a declaration calling on EU Institutions to recognize the importance of maintaining this unique know how in the Continent.

We all agree that Fuel cells, LNG and biofuels are what we need for the current transition phase.

But we need to move NOW to secure a supply of renewable fuels at the scale required not just for cruise but for the entire maritime sector.

We want specific targets for production of renewable marine fuels to be adopted at EU and national level to accelerate investment and deployment.

And national renewable energy plans to fully include the needs for infrastructure and deployment of renewable fuels at EU ports.

By doing this we will make sure that Europe remains at the centre of cleantech development for decades to come.

We – the cruise industry – came up with the protocol that unlocked travel during the pandemic and now we stand ready to help European institutions solve climate change!

Je vous remercie de votre attention, et je vous souhaite un excellent Sommet.