European Boating Industry outlines sector’s size, potential and shortcomings in eight-page manifesto

European Boating Industry (EBI), the Brussels-based lobby of the European leisure marine industry, is urging the EU to end the lack across of common rules across Europe on acquiring boating sector skills and vocational training.

In an eight-page industry manifesto, EBI outlines the European boating sector’s size, potential and shortcomings. The latter includes the industry’s longstanding complaint that the 28-nation EU remains a smorgasbord of boating sector training rules and norms.

“Charter companies and individual skippers complain about the lack of acceptance of professional qualifications acquired in another EU state,” says EBI. “Boatbuilders experience a shortage of skilled workers” such as painters but cannot find them in other EU states for lack of mutual recognition of qualifications.

The absence of a mutual recognition of diplomas harms the industry’s job opportunities and growth, says EBI. It represents 24,000 companies, mostly SMEs, that employ more than 200,000 people and serve 36 million boaters across the 28-nation EU.

The just-released manifesto takes the temperature of the EU industry and makes these points:

  • Europe’s “blue economy” generates more than €500b a year – 4% of the EU’s total annual economic output. The nautical tourism sector creates 234,000 jobs and generates €28bn in annual revenue. The sector “stimulates other activities along the entire supply chain in a ratio of about 1 to 6”
  • The boating sector has “much more potential provided the right conditions are in place”. Apart from training shortcomings, the EU must curb red tape in an industry heavily populated by family businesses
  • The EU boating sector requires easier access to finance, R&D and innovation
  • The EU must improve “market surveillance… to achieve a level-playing field,” notably by harmonising VAT rates across Europe
  • The industry is “sensitive to even small changes”. It says the trade EU-US trade dispute “threatens growth, jobs and innovation”

EBI says Europe’s boating industry faces great prospects. “An ageing society and changes in demand patterns have led to new models of consumption,” says its manifesto. “More and more, our users want to enjoy the delights of boating without ownership, via the shared economy. This can be a source of new opportunities for the industry which is adapting, if the right conditions are in place – including legal certainty and flexibility for innovative business models.”