European shipbuilding should restructure to cope with the end of subsidies at the end of 2000, said Martin Bangemann an industry commissioner.
Last week the European Commission announced a proposal to end contract-related state aid for shipbuilding after 2000. This is needed to fill the policy vacuum before implementation of the OECD shipbuilding agreement, which is being delayed by US reluctance to ratify, the commission said.
Specialist yards should merge, Bangemann said, citing the examples of yards building bulk carriers, cruise ships and gas tankers – fields in which competition is rising as ships get bigger.
The seventh directive allows governments to provide 9% subsidy aid towards the construction of merchant ships until the end of this year.
Any new subsidy proposal will last from 1 January 1999 to 31 December 2000 when subsidies will end totally.