The SSS’s development prospects in the framework of the European Green Deal
The “European Green Deal” provides a roadmap with actions to boost the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy, stop climate change, revert biodiversity loss and cut pollution.
SSS will have a key role in this process and will have access to many financing opportunities within the “Just Transition Mechanism” mobilizing over 100 billion € in the 2021–2027 period to reach a “climate neutral” EU by 2050.
A full integration between the SSS and other transport modes is a priority objective of the EU Transport Policy. In particular, SSS will have a strong role in reaching the EU transport goal of reducing 60% of greenhouse gas emission generated by transport within 2050 and the shift of 30% of road freight over 300 km to other modes within 2030.
However, the plans of the Commission and the efforts of all the other stakeholders have been hindered by the recent Covid 19 crisis, which delayed many of the above-mentioned policies and is having a negative economic impact on all sectors, including SSS.
In particular, according to EMSA, the number of ships calls at EU ports declined by 13.0% in the first 45 weeks of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. The most affected sectors have been the Chemical tankers, Cruise ships and Passenger ships. Meanwhile, the number of Bulk carriers, Containerships, General Cargo, Oil tankers, and Ro-Ro cargo vessels had a relatively smaller decrease (up to 5%).
In this scenario the Western Mediterranean must be intended as a macroeconomic area of continents, rather than nations, for which it is necessary to identify common maritime environmental (e.g. Green Deal) policies. Within said framework, SSS can play a very important role in the new world maritime planning.
Moreover, there is a clear inversion in the delocalization process of enterprises in the current post Covid 19 era. Because of the delays in communications, the difficulties in completing the deliveries and the increase in the cost of labor and freight rates in Asia, North Africa and part of Europe are becoming increasingly more attractive for enterprises. Due to this change it is possible to see that consumption and production are getting closer to each other.
The delocalization phenomena, especially towards African ports (Free Ports) has a positive impact on infra-Mediterranean countries in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth and maritime traffic flows, including SSS, considering both the dimensions and the characteristics of the single ports. This tendency is also connected to the development of integrated systems such as Tanger Med and of green Hydrogen Platforms, in line with the European Green Deal and in the framework of creating a green energy hub. The possibility of bringing back the shipbuilding industry in the Med area is another important aspect that should be considered, especially in Turkey, Italy Malta and France.
The geopolitical stability of the neighboring countries such as Libya, Syria and Lebanon, will be able to contribute as well to the GDP growth in the area, to the increase in traffic flows and to the redistribution of the production system, considering the push of Next Generation EU and of the National Recovery and Resilience Plans in compliance with existing environmental policies in the transport sector. Said development will be able to have a rebalancing effect towards the migratory policies, mainly in the north African countries.