Public funds for Italian fleet renewal to be partially cancelled

March 1, 2024

The €500 million Italian scheme to assist companies in the maritime transport sector to acquire clean and zero-emission vessels, as well as to retrofit more polluting vessels, is at risk. Some new ferries were among the projects approved under the €161 million Italian fleet renewal [Ferry Shipping News]. To date, only roughly €50 million is expected to be effectively used. This is the reason why policymakers in Rome have decided to transfer these same funds to other projects, such as new port infrastructures. The aid would support the acquisition of clean and zero-emission vessels, including vessels powered by electricity and hydrogen, as well as the retrofitting of vessels.

The Italian shipowners’ association requested some simplifications, such as including ‘Mediterranean shipyards’ (thus also based in Turkey) among the eligible builders for new building and refitting projects, but this was not acceptable either for Italy’s Fincantieri or for EU legislation.

Another hurdle for the shipowners to overcome was the limitation to deploy the funded ships to a maritime link, including an Italian port. The Italian scheme, approved by the European Commission, aimed to encourage shipping companies to replace existing vessels with low environmental performance and to reduce the use of fossil-based fuels in the maritime transport sector. The scheme supported projects that increased the environmental performance and energy efficiency of vessels operating long, medium, and short sea services for passengers, freight, and combined transport, as well as other vessels operating in Italian ports.