Water Transport Employment in Europe: The Role of Governance

15 Sep 2023

The final report of the ETF – EU funded project “A fair and sustainable waterborne transport in Europe: the maritime, inland navigation, ports and fishing sectors of the ETF build human-centred responses to global threatsis now available.

The waterborne transport sector in Europe has been facing significant challenges. The European markets in the industry are also still largely fragmented, and there is a lack of integration in wider multimodal logistics networks.

At the same time, our waterborne transport workers (dockers, seafarers, crew members and fishers) must continue working in a changing industry. Creating smart, safe and sustainable waterborne transport services and operations requires both high-skilled workers and high-quality jobs.

At a time when the EU is both facing a sudden, immense crisis and considering how to define an industrial strategy to strengthen its place in the world economy, the European waterborne transport sector should be considered as a strategic and key asset.

The ETF action for a “sustainable and fair waterborne transport in Europe” intends to look into the sustainability and resilience challenges of the waterborne transport sector, which encompasses shipping, ports, inland navigation and fishing.

What topics are covered?

  • Quality of work, anticipation, preparation and management of change and restructuring.
  • Sustainability, transition to a climate-neutral economy
  • Health and safety at work, modernisation of social protection systems
  • Decent work
  1. Understanding the importance of the European waterborne transport sector in global value chains: the key issues already impacting the entire waterborne sector value chain (competition, consolidation, transport connectivity) and their effects on the environment and the socio-economic landscape, including labour and working conditions.
  2. Understanding crisis management from a global perspective: how unions can respond to the emergence of crises and mitigate their effects, and the role of the trade unions, together with other stakeholders: social partners and institutions at EU and national levels, NGOs.
  3. Exploring options for a fair waterborne transport sector in Europe to move forward and put an end to conflicting social, environmental and economic objectives and costly inefficiencies; align fair and sustainable actions at EU, national, and local levels to promote high standards of employment practice and respect of fundamental rights in the waterborne transport industry.

The report “Water Transport Employment in Europe: The Role of Governance” has been written by Olaf Merk of the International Transport Forum (ITF) and builds on expert discussions during two workshops and Steering Group meetings organised by the ETF.

The report assesses the current state of water transport employment in Europe, links it to water transport governance and provides recommendations for reform.