The EU Commission has been urged to put together a specific maritime rescue and recovery action plan by European MEPs.
The MEP's from Renew Europe tweeted that 'Covid19 is affecting the maritime sector, putting the continuation of transportation of essential goods, such as food or medicines, at risk. High time for a maritime rescue and recovery action plan'
In response to the Coronavirus pandemic the Commission has already said it proposes to direct €37 billion under European Structural Investment to fight the economic crisis facing Europe, but the MEPs are arguing for a more targeted package specifically recognising maritime.
The maritime sector in Europe accounts for 90% of EU's external fright and 32% of the intra EU transport of goods. The internal market, citizens and industries needed a 'smooth and timely transportation of essential goods, food, medicines and a vast range of products of first necessity', Renew Europe said.
Sea and inland ports and the shipping industry especially needed a sector specific rescue and recovery action plan to 'ensure the continuity of seaborne trade to and from the EU, and to ensure less disruptions caused by the virus outbreak to the sector'.
Some 100,000 crew members need to change shift worldwide every month, so it was imperative seafarers were formally designated as keyworkers.
Inland waterway personnel across Europe should also be given special status to ensure these services were maintained.
For seafarers they asked the Commission to:
• ensure that all health and safety measures taken for transport workers are also applied to seafarers: to afford them a special consideration, providing the necessary assistance and flexibility to ensure the free movement of ships crews across borders as well as during change of shift
• ensure seafarers are recognised as keyworkers
• take effective measures at EU and international level in order to ensure the extension of the validity of current seafarer certificates by at least six months
• ensure the necessary assistance and funding for member states in implementing social protection and special assistance measures for seafarers based on best practices already put in place by some countries
• ensure that inland shipping personnel that have no Covid-19 symptoms are not stopped at internal borders, by including professional travel related to inland waterway transport in the Eu guidelines for border management measures.
• professional travel should be enabled to ensure transport of goods and services not only for transport workers are applied to inland waterway skippers and inland shipping persons – not just truck and train drivers
President of Renew Europe Dacian Cioloş @CiolosDacian later tweeted that the Commission's proposals for a short-time work scheme SURE is a welcome signal of solidarity with all European workers and a key request of Renew Europe.
'Saving jobs today is the first milestone for a quick recovery tomorrow.'
Among the signaturies on the open letter were the president of the fisheries committee of the European Parliament, Pierre Karleskind; Rotterdam MEP Caroline Nagtegaal; the president of the Balearics José Ramón Bauzá; and Danish liberal politician Søren Gade.
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