Easy-to-access financing required for vessel operators

09 May 2016

To modernise the inland shipping industry and optimize its full potential, there is a need for healthy credit provision. The Connecting Europe Facility and the Juncker Plan (EFSI) cover the possibility of financial instruments for innovation: loans provided on better conditions; micro credits and equity instruments. The vessel operators’ organisations ESO and EBU jointly organised a market survey to identify the specific financial needs of the waterway operators for modernisation investments. The survey took place with the technical support of the PLATINA II project and the cooperation of the European Commission.

The survey was open from 1 October 2015 until 10 January 2016. Out of the 426 participants that started the survey, a total of 235 respondents (55%) are considered to have completed it. These respondents represent a total of 280 companies in EU-28 and Switzerland. The number of employees and vessels per company of respondents follows a similar pattern as the one seen in the European IWT sector. 70% of the respondents were small companies with one vessel, 23% of the respondents mid-size companies with 2 to 10 vessels, 7% of the respondents were large companies with 11 vessels or more.

The small surveyed companies tend to focus the investments more around the renewal/upgrading of the current vessel compared to the large enterprises that see both the renewal and replacement of the fleet as important economic investments. The preference of the mid-size companies surveyed is in between the small and large companies. Easy access to finance would facilitate the large majority of the surveyed companies (around 85%) to make investments. The group of small companies that responded to the survey have more difficulties in obtaining high financial capacity compared to the group of mid-size and large companies.

One of the main requests brought forward by the companies is to provide more support to smaller companies when applying for complex subsidy procedures. The survey results indicate that these companies are less likely to have a business plans for the next years and have more difficulties in obtaining high financial capacity for investments. However, the group of mid-size and large companies in the survey indicates that the current legislation and complex procedures limit the modernisation investments of their company. All company size groups would benefit from advice on energy efficiency/emission reduction and support in requesting finance and mid-size and large companies ask specifically for support for the introduction of new vessels. A recommendation would therefore be to offer the financial instruments jointly with advisory services in order to maximise its impact.

Easy-to-access financing required for vessel operators