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Maritime Industries Forum calls for greater coordination of research

The plenary meeting of the Maritime Industries Forum, aimed at discussing the development of the maritime industry in Europe, took place in Bremen, Germany, on 26-27 June 1995. It brought together representatives of all sectors of the maritime industry, trade unions, research...

The plenary meeting of the Maritime Industries Forum, aimed at discussing the development of the maritime industry in Europe, took place in Bremen, Germany, on 26-27 June 1995. It brought together representatives of all sectors of the maritime industry, trade unions, research institutes, members of the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee, as well as representatives of the Member States and the European Commission. The European Commissioners present at the Forum were Mr. Martin Bangemann, Commissioner for industry, Mrs. Edith Cresson, Commissioner for science, research and development, and Mr. Neil Kinnock, Commissioner for transport. The following maritime issues dominated the discussions: . Research and development: The Forum once again made the point that it would be difficult to maintain the competitiveness of the maritime industry without making efforts to improve research. The following remains to be done: - There needs to be greater awareness of the need for international cooperation and research; - Effective means must be found of coordinating research; - Scientists and industry should cooperate more closely. One of the industries involved in the R&D coordinating body set up last December presented the main features of a "master plan" which would serve as a framework for future research and prevent duplication of effort. For the Commission, Mr. Bangemann, Mrs. Cresson and Mr. Kinnock recently decided to create a maritime task force, which would coordinate efforts on research and industrial policy. It will begin operations after summer 1995. The aims of the task force are principally to work with industry to identify industrial and technological objectives, and to create synergies between EU, national and other initiatives. Closer cooperation between industry and research will also be a key issue in the implementation of the European Union's Fourth Framework Programme. The maritime industries feature very prominently in virtually all the specific programmes, and the high level of commitment of Europe's maritime industry is demonstrated by the 400 or more proposals for research projects which the Commission has received since the calls for proposals were first published. The Forum took the view that future objectives should be: - To increase the number and improve the quality of the maritime projects submitted following the next calls for proposals in the autumn; - To update priorities regularly following consultation of industry and users. . MARIS: The industry underlined its determination to do all in its power to ensure that the information society can benefit the maritime industries. This is the aim behind the pilot project, MARIS, which was adopted at the G7 Conference on the Information Society at the end of February 1995. It consists of four subprojects: - SAFEMAR: Maritime safety and protection of the marine environment; - MARTRANS: Improving port logistical information systems; - MARSOURCE: Global information network on fisheries and seas, designed primarily to protect fish stocks; - MARVEL: Linking shipyards and their subcontractors into common global information networks with the aim of making shipbuilding more "intelligent". The industry is now working with the Commission in order to carry out the tasks set out in the progress report on MARIS at the June Halifax Summit. Practical results are expected to be available in time for EXPO '98 in Lisbon. The Forum also discussed the OECD shipbuilding agreement. The agreement, which should finally put an end to the global trend to resort to State aids, is expected to come into effect on 1 January 1996.