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Article published in MSF StudyRomania’s maritime resilience in the era of hybrid threats and the importance of a Maritime Security Strategy

Polar V collector ship

Romania has a strategic interest in the maritime sector, given its privileged geographical position on the Black Sea and access to the Danube, which offers opportunities for the development of maritime and river transport, the shipbuilding industry and maritime tourism.

As regards the development of own maritime vessels, this must be one of the priority objectives of the national maritime strategy, with the aim of stimulating innovation and competitiveness, developing technological capabilities and increasing exports. Romania has a long tradition in shipbuilding and there are currently a number of Romanian companies producing ships and equipment for the maritime industry as well as for the offshore oil and gas industry.

Having its own maritime vessels can bring several economic benefits to Romania. Firstly, it can reduce dependence on ship imports, which can lead to increased production capacity and job creation in the shipbuilding sector. Secondly, it can increase the competitiveness of the Romanian maritime sector and contribute to the development of external markets.

However, building your own maritime vessels is an expensive investment and requires careful planning and a long-term development strategy. This requires the development of research and development capacities, increased innovation and modernisation of production processes, and good cooperation between Romanian and foreign companies.

The maritime sector is of significant importance in the Romanian economy, as it is responsible for a number of key economic and social activities.

Seaports are an important gateway for goods and products to and from other countries. They facilitate international trade and are vital for importing and exporting goods around the world. In addition, shipping is an important source of income for shipping companies as well as for workers in the sector.

Port activities, such as storage, loading and unloading of goods, are another important source of income and jobs. These include port operators, who service ships and goods, as well as ancillary staff such as carriers and port equipment operators.

 Shipping is another important branch of the maritime sector, producing ships and other marine equipment. This includes shipbuilding, ship repair and modernisation, and the production of marine equipment such as engines, radars and safety equipment.

Maritime tourism is another important source of income for the Romanian economy. The Black Sea coast and the Danube Delta attract millions of tourists every year, who visit these areas for the beach, water sports, fishing and other recreational activities.

In conclusion, the maritime sector is of major importance to the Romanian economy, generating significant revenues and jobs for a variety of key economic and social activities.

  1. Implementing the resilience process in the sector

The resilience process in the maritime sector is important to address challenges such as climate change, sea level rise, extreme weather events, oil spills and other threats to the marine environment and maritime economy. Here are some examples of resilience measures that can be implemented in this sector:

  • Port infrastructure needs to be adapted to new environmental conditions, such as rising sea levels and the frequency of extreme weather events. This may include reinforcing docks and flood protection dams, as well as revising evacuation and disaster response plans;
  • Advanced technology can help reduce polluting emissions and improve the energy efficiency of ships. This can include the use of low-emission engines, hybrid propulsion technologies and fuel optimisation technologies;
  • Maritime tourism can be developed in a sustainable way by promoting responsible tourism and eco-friendly practices in all aspects of tourism activities, such as waste management, reduction of energy consumption and use of renewable energy sources;
  • Establishing a rapid disaster response system is important to deal with extreme events such as oil accidents and natural disasters. This can include training of port staff and ship crews, as well as the development of response technologies and equipment.

In conclusion, implementing a resilience process in the maritime sector is essential to protect the marine environment and ensure a sustainable maritime economy. By adapting port infrastructure, developing marine technology, promoting sustainable tourism and developing disaster response capacity, the maritime sector can become more resilient and sustainable in the face of current and future challenges.

Romania’s maritime sector makes a significant contribution to the national economy, being an important driver of economic growth and job creation. According to data from the Romanian Maritime Authority, in 2021, the maritime sector generated a turnover of €3.3 billion and the number of employees in the sector exceeded 65,000 people. The maritime sector is also responsible for 65% of Romania’s foreign trade, which shows its importance for the national economy.

In addition to these economic aspects, the maritime sector is of strategic importance for Romania. Romania has an important geostrategic position on the Black Sea, which is considered to be one of the most important maritime routes in Europe. This strategic position means that the maritime sector in Romania has huge potential for development and is of significant importance for Europe’s security and prosperity.

However, Romania’s maritime sector faces a number of challenges that may affect its development. These include climate change, rising sea levels, extreme weather events, oil spills and other threats to the marine environment and maritime economy.

Climate change and sea level rise are two major issues facing the maritime sector in Romania. According to a report by the World Meteorological Organisation, sea levels have risen in recent years by about 3.7 mm per year, which can lead to flooding and other problems for port infrastructure. In addition, climate change may also affect fishing, which is an important industry for the Romanian economy.

In addition to these problems, the maritime sector also faces the risk of oil accidents and other threats to the marine environment, such as pollution.

Oil spills are a major problem for the maritime sector, both economically and environmentally. These accidents can lead to loss of life, significant damage to the marine environment and significant costs for clean-up and recovery of affected areas.

In recent years, Romania has witnessed several oil tanker accidents, the most recent being the one that took place in November 2021, when the tanker Agia Trias spilled fuel in the port of Constanta. This spill affected an important area for fishing and tourism, and its clean-up required significant efforts and high costs.

Pollution of the marine environment is another problem faced by Romania’s maritime sector. It can be caused by waste and sewage dumping, as well as oil spills. Pollution can affect human health and safety as well as marine flora and fauna, which can have a significant impact on the maritime economy.

To face these challenges, the Romanian maritime sector needs to implement a resilience process. This process refers to the maritime sector’s ability to adapt to climate change and other threats to the marine environment and maritime economy by identifying and implementing sustainable solutions.

Implementing a resilience process in the maritime sector can bring a number of benefits. These include increased safety for workers in the sector, protection of the marine environment and biodiversity, and reduced clean-up and recovery costs following oil spills or other unwanted events.

In order to implement a resilience process, the Romanian maritime sector needs to consider a number of measures. These include investments in technology and infrastructure, as well as increasing the capacity to respond to undesirable events by training and preparing staff and other stakeholders involved in the maritime sector.

The resilience of an economy is its ability to cope with a catastrophic event, such as an economic crisis, a financial crisis or a pandemic. Analysing the period 1990-1993, the parliamentary commission of inquiry into the situation of Romania’s maritime transport fleet concluded in its report of December 1993 that, despite the pronounced strategic, economic and political nature, despite the potential of the Constanta port complex, the hub of maritime and river traffic for Central Europe, the shipping sector was neglected from a legislative point of view. Given that in 2023, 30 years after the above statement, Romania’s maritime administration has not yet managed to implement one of the pillars of global maritime legislation, the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC 2006), has not managed to implement the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks, adopted in Nairobi on 18 May 2007, and does not have a strategy for the Ballast Water Treatment Convention of 2004, the legislative neglect of the shipping sector continues.

Applied to the Romanian maritime sector, the concept of resilience would mean its ability to cope with a complex of circumstances, such as: the inability of governments over the last 30 years to realise the importance of waterborne transport and the enormous potential benefits for Romania, and the inability to appreciate the naval and port heritage still existing and operational.

The indifference of the Romanian state towards this field of activity has meant that, more than 30 years after the changes of 1989, Romania does not have a naval strategy that would highlight the comparative advantages, competitive advantages and opportunities for the benefit of the national economy.

Shipping is, par excellence, an area of activity that involves interaction with many other downstream sectors, other modes of transport and other activities in the national economy. The lack of coordination both within the shipping sector and with other sectors of the national economy, namely regional development, energy, logistics, trade, makes it extremely difficult to develop a national shipping policy. 

After the year 2000, the Romanian public has observed the sedimentation of beliefs that emphasize the geostrategic importance of Romania. From the point of view of Romania’s projection in the field of maritime cargo volumes, Romania’s position determines challenges and conditionalities that must be taken into account when drawing up a national maritime policy.

As a port in the semi-enclosed Black Sea basin, the Port of Constanta in particular does not have direct connectivity with maritime routes linking the Middle East, Far East, Australia and African countries to Europe. Being accessed only through the Turkish straits, the port of Constanta has a reduced size of the market served, compared to nearby Mediterranean ports, being conditioned and restricted to the reception of cargo flows representing Romania’s imports and exports and part of the transit cargo to and from Central European countries that do not have a direct exit to the sea. Preliminary research on the amendment of the Port of Constanta’s Masterplan shows, at the level of 2022, a captive hinterland of about 45% of Romania’s surface area, the rest of the country having alternative connections with ports in the Adriatic Sea or, depending on the specifics of cargo flows, with ports in the Hamburg-Le Havre area.

In figures, Romania’s trade in 2022 is as follows:

Exports (€ million)91951,60FOB conditions+23.1% compared to 2021
Imports (€ million)126046,50CIF conditions+ 28.1% compared to 2021

Of the total freight volumes generated by Romania’s trade in 2022, the distribution by mode of transport is:

Road 12%;

Naval 20%;

Rail 68%;

Romania’s maritime traffic in 2022:

Import 42% (25,094,952 tonnes);

Export 38% (23,165,482 tonnes);

Transit 20% (11,821,844 tonnes);

At present, Romania does not have a significant civilian fleet. Most of the ships sailing under the Romanian flag are small vessels carrying cargo on the Danube or the Black Sea. Compared to other countries in the region, such as Bulgaria, Greece or Turkey, the Romanian fleet is quite small and outdated.

There are several arguments for the establishment of a civilian fleet for Romania. Firstly, shipping is an important sector of the global economy, generating significant revenues. For example, in 2019, the global shipping industry generated more than $4 trillion in revenue and provided jobs for more than 50 million people. Developing a civilian ship fleet for Romania could help create jobs in the shipping industry and generate significant revenue for the country’s economy.

Secondly, the development of a fleet of civilian ships could enhance Romania’s economic interests in international shipping. Currently, shipping is dominated by countries such as China, Japan and South Korea, which have some of the largest fleets of ships in the world. By developing its own fleet, Romania could increase its influence in the maritime sector and enhance its ability to promote its economic interests.

Thirdly, the development of a civilian ship fleet for Romania could enhance the country’s national security. By owning its own fleet, Romania would have more control over cargo transport and the safety of ships sailing under its flag. Developing its own fleet could also increase the country’s ability to respond to emergencies such as natural disasters or acts of terrorism.

The establishment of the Romanian flag for civilian ships was motivated by several factors. Among them:

Reducing operating costs: A large part of the operating costs of civil vessels are related to the payment of taxes and duties to the country of registration. The establishment of a Romanian flag for civil ships can help reduce these costs, as Romania can offer more favourable taxation and more efficient administration.

Access to finance: Romanian-flagged ships can benefit from easier access to finance, as Romania has cooperation agreements with several international organisations that provide funding for the maritime industry.

Ensuring safety standards: the establishment of the Romanian flag has contributed to ensuring safety standards for civilian ships sailing under this flag. Romania can monitor and verify how safety standards are respected and ships that do not comply can be withdrawn from service.

Promotion of the national brand: the establishment of the Romanian flag has contributed to the promotion of the national brand, as well as to increasing the prestige and international recognition of Romania as a country with a strong maritime tradition.

Also, the establishment of the Romanian flag for civil ships has contributed to the creation of new jobs and to the development of the national economy. By registering ships under the Romanian flag, greater use of Romanian ports can be ensured, which can lead to the development of port infrastructure and other related services such as transport and logistics.

Romania has a national flag for maritime vessels, which is represented by Romania’s tricolour flag and is internationally recognised by the International Maritime Organisation. Ships registered under the Romanian flag are subject to the regulations and standards imposed by the Romanian state. However, the number of ships sailing under the Romanian flag is relatively small compared to other maritime countries in the region. The Romanian flag registration code is ROU, and this means that Romanian ships register this flag code in international maritime documents and communications. By registering its flag with the IMO, Romania has confirmed its status as a maritime state and demonstrated that it can assume its responsibilities in international commercial shipping.

Romania has been registered with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) since 1976, when it joined the organisation. Since then, the Romanian flag has been officially recognised by the international community and Romanian ships have sailed under this flag all over the world. It is important to note that IMO flag registration is not a one-time process, but a continuous process that involves meeting the standards and regulations imposed by the organisation.

Romania’s flag registration with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is still valid today. The Romanian flag is officially recognised by the international community and Romanian ships continue to sail under this flag throughout the world.

Romania also maintains its status as a maritime state and assumes its responsibilities for international commercial shipping by meeting the standards and regulations imposed by the IMO. By registering the national flag with the IMO, Romania can promote the country’s maritime interests and ensure the protection of the rights and interests of ships flying the Romanian flag.

Principle of registration of ships under the flag of a state: a ship is a mobile business which follows the most favourable fiscal and civil regime.

The favourable tax regime initiative emerged in the European Union in the early 1990’s as an attempt to counteract the phenomenon of flagging out – the disappearance of seagoing ships registered under European flags. The favourable tax regime meant the abolition of the corporate tax on shipping activities and the introduction, similar to flags of convenience, of the tonnage tax, a modest flat-rate charge levied on a ship registered in a European state, in the hope that its continued operation would stimulate vertical and horizontal industry in that state.

The introduction of the tonnage tax is in line with the transport policy guidelines of the European Union, which controls about 39% of the world fleet in terms of transport capacity. Attracting EU-flagged vessels and employing EU seafaring personnel is therefore a European policy desideratum.

Registering a Romanian flag of convenience with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) can bring several advantages to Romania in terms of shipping and maritime industry.

One of the main advantages is the possibility to register foreign vessels under the Romanian flag of convenience. This would allow ship owners who wish to sail under the Romanian flag to benefit from lower tax rates than those offered by other countries. This may be attractive to shipowners seeking to minimise operating costs and maximise profit. Registering a fleet of vessels under the Romanian flag can also help increase state revenues by taxing the income and profits earned by shipowners.

In addition, registering a Romanian flag of convenience can improve Romania’s reputation in the international maritime industry and increase the country’s visibility in this sector. This can bring new business opportunities and attract foreign investment in Romania’s maritime industry.

In addition to these advantages, registering a Romanian flag of convenience can also contribute to improving maritime safety and security standards. By adhering to international maritime safety and security standards, Romania can reduce the risk of maritime accidents and protect the environment. It can also have a positive impact on Romania’s reputation in the international maritime industry and increase confidence in ships sailing under the Romanian flag.

  1. A possible vision: Rebuilding Maritime Romania

Fig, 1. Maritime Romania

Fig 1 shows the main components leading to a vision model that would re-launch the maritime sector in Romania, which we will analyse below.

The Romanian shipbuilding industry has significant potential to become a strong competitor on the international market. With a rich maritime history and a strategic geographical position, Romania has the opportunity to strengthen its presence in the maritime industry. To achieve this goal, concerted efforts are needed to improve the competitiveness of the Romanian naval flag and attract ship owners and investors. Here are some key directions to achieve this.

Fleet modernisation and development:

An essential step to become competitive in the maritime industry is the modernisation and development of the Romanian naval fleet. This involves investing in the construction of new ships and the modernisation of existing ones. Efforts should focus on developing energy-efficient, technologically advanced ships that meet the highest environmental and safety standards.

Investments in port infrastructure:

Port infrastructure plays a crucial role in the competitiveness of the maritime flag. Modernisation and expansion of ports is essential to handle increased cargo volumes and to provide efficient ship-handling services. Investm

ents in port infrastructure would attract ship owners and increase the attractiveness of the Romanian naval flag.

Stimulating innovation and technology:

Innovation and technology are key factors in increasing the competitiveness of the Romanian naval flag. Promoting research and development in advanced maritime technologies would encourage the adoption of innovative and efficient solutions. Investments in digitisation, automation and state-of-the-art technology would increase efficiency and productivity in maritime operations.

Improving the quality of services:

Another important aspect of becoming competitive is providing high quality services. This includes ship management services, port services, quality assurance and safety standards. It is also important to provide personalised and tailor-made services to customers’ needs, thus creating a reputation of trust and professionalism.

Promote and support maritime legislation:

A favourable and stable legal framework is essential to attract ship owners and facilitate maritime activities. It is important for Romania to have clear and predictable legislation in the maritime sector, which provides legal certainty and facilitates the development of maritime activities. This could include measures to reduce red tape and simplify administrative procedures for maritime operators.

Developing the skilled workforce:

Another important factor to increase the competitiveness of the Romanian naval flag is the development and training of the workforce. Investment in training and education of maritime industry personnel would ensure the quality and competence of crews, which would be appreciated by shipowners and increase confidence in the Romanian flag.

Promoting the Romanian flag at international level:

A well-structured promotion campaign at international level would contribute to increasing the visibility of the Romanian naval flag and attracting foreign shipowners. It should highlight the advantages of the Romanian flag, such as quality of service, safety standards and strategic position in the region.

The maritime industry is a strategic sector for Romania, with a long tradition and significant potential for development and economic growth. In this context, the importance of a maritime bank in the country becomes obvious. Such a specialised financial institution would support the development and modernisation of the maritime sector, facilitating access to finance, stimulating innovation and creating growth opportunities in the Romanian economy.

Around the world there are specialised financial institutions known as ‘maritime banks’ or ‘shipping banks’ that focus on banking and financial services for the maritime industry. These maritime banks offer a wide range of products and services tailored to the specific needs of shipping companies, shipowners and other entities in the maritime sector.

The main role of maritime banks is to provide specialised financing for the construction, acquisition and operation of ships, as well as for other maritime activities and investments. They can provide ship purchase loans, new ship construction finance, operating loans, factoring services, leasing and other financial products tailored to the maritime industry.

In addition to financing, maritime banks can offer other services such as treasury management, trading and clearing services, foreign exchange risk management and marine insurance. Maritime banks play an important role in supporting the development and growth of maritime industries and have specialised expertise in finance and maritime. They help ensure liquidity in the maritime industry and facilitate commercial transactions in the global supply chain.

Examples of internationally recognised maritime banks include DNB, ING Bank, ABN AMRO and BNP Paribas, which have specialised banking and financial services divisions for the maritime industry.

Support for investment in the maritime fleet:

One of the main functions of a maritime bank is to provide specialised financing for the maritime industry. This would support investment in shipbuilding, acquisition and operation. Through tailored financial services, maritime banks would facilitate the development of the Romanian maritime fleet and ensure competitiveness on the international market.

Promoting port infrastructure development:

Another important aspect of a maritime bank would be to support the development of port infrastructure. Through financing and specialised expertise, it would contribute to the modernisation and expansion of Romania’s ports. In this way, ports could be prepared to cope with the growth in maritime traffic and become more competitive regionally and internationally.

Facilitating international trade:

Maritime banks would play a crucial role in facilitating financial transactions and operations related to international trade. Through their specialised services and tools, they would help smooth the flow of goods and boost Romania’s exports and imports. This would encourage the development of international trade relations and increase Romania’s involvement in global supply chains.

Support for innovation and technological development:

A maritime bank would be an important catalyst for innovation and technological development in the maritime sector. Through their specialised financial services, these banks would support the financing of research and development projects in advanced maritime technologies. This support would foster the adoption of innovative solutions and help create a favourable environment for start-ups and innovative companies in the maritime sector. Romania could thus benefit from the transfer of knowledge and advanced technologies, strengthening its position in the maritime industry at global level.

Creating jobs and stimulating economic growth:

The establishment of a maritime bank would have a significant impact on Romania’s economy. The development of the maritime sector through a maritime bank would lead to the creation of jobs in various fields such as finance, transport, logistics and marine engineering. This would stimulate economic growth, generating income and contributing to the sustainable development of the country.

Ports play a vital role in international trade and a country’s economic development. To strengthen their position in the global context, Romanian ports need to become competitive, offer high quality services and attract significant trade flows. Improving port infrastructure, simplifying administrative procedures, adopting innovative technologies and promoting partnerships are key elements to transform Romanian ports into competitive port centres.

Modernisation of port infrastructure:

A key to becoming competitive is the modernisation and development of port infrastructure. This involves investment in expanding and improving port terminals, building specialised terminals (container, grain, oil products, etc.), modernising waterways and cargo handling facilities. The development of port infrastructure will enable Romanian ports to cope with the increase in maritime traffic and provide efficient services.

Simplification of administrative procedures:

         A simplified and efficient business environment is crucial to attract companies and trade flows to Romanian ports. The authorities need to simplify administrative procedures and reduce red tape, making it easier to import and export goods. The implementation of an electronic document management system and cooperation between the various institutions involved in port activities will help to streamline operations and reduce the time needed to carry them out.

Adopting innovative technologies:

The use of advanced technologies can bring significant benefits in increasing the competitiveness of Romanian ports. The implementation of automation systems, Internet of Things (IoT)[2] , artificial intelligence and blockchain[3] can improve the efficiency and transparency of port operations. For example, container tracking technology and digital document management can reduce handling time and logistics costs, thus attracting more companies to use Romanian ports.

Promoting partnerships:

Collaboration between Romanian ports and international partners can increase their competitiveness. Strategic partnerships with other renowned ports or port operators, as well as collaboration with academic and research institutions, can bring expertise and know-how to the development of Romanian ports. These partnerships can contribute to the transfer of knowledge and advanced technologies, thus improving the capabilities of Romanian ports. Promoting partnerships with transport and logistics companies, as well as port authorities in other countries, can also bring new trade flows and greater international connectivity.

Development of adjacent services:

To become competitive, Romanian ports should develop and diversify the range of services offered. This can include storage and distribution services, ship repair services, shipbuilding and conversion facilities, and integrated logistics services. By offering a complete package of adjacent services, Romanian ports can attract more companies and provide efficient logistics solutions.

Focus on sustainability and the environment:

In the current era of environmental and sustainability concerns, Romanian ports should adopt environmentally friendly practices and invest in green solutions. This can include implementing renewable energy technologies, efficient waste management and reducing environmental impact. Ports that are seen as sustainable and environmentally responsible will attract the attention and preference of companies and shipowners who care about these issues.

The shipbuilding industry is a strategic sector of significant importance for Romania’s economy. The revival of this sector can have a positive impact on the country’s economic development and generate numerous social and industrial benefits.

Increasing jobs and employment:

The revival of shipbuilding would lead to the creation of a significant number of jobs in various fields such as ship engineering, construction, welding, mechanics and logistics. This would help reduce unemployment and provide career opportunities for young people and industry professionals. By developing this industry, an economic stimulus effect can be created in the regions where shipbuilding takes place.

Boosting exports and the trade balance:

Reviving shipbuilding would increase Romania’s ability to export ships and boats to international markets. By building and delivering high quality commercial and specialised vessels, Romania could gain an increased share of the global market, generating significant export revenues and contributing to an improved trade balance.

Developing an industrial cluster and value chain:

The revival of shipbuilding would stimulate the development of an industrial cluster around this industry, involving both manufacturers of ship equipment and components and providers of related services. This would create opportunities for local businesses and stimulate collaboration and innovation within the shipbuilding value chain.

Technology transfer and skills development:

Reviving shipbuilding would bring significant benefits in terms of technology transfer and skills development. Collaboration with international partners in the shipbuilding process would allow the transfer of knowledge and expertise, contributing to the development of the technological and professional capabilities of the Romanian shipbuilding industry.

Recovery and diversification of the local economy:

The revival of shipbuilding would diversify the local economy and reduce dependence on certain sectors. This would provide greater economic resilience and reduce the risk of economic fluctuations in the event of crises in other sectors. The development of shipbuilding would also stimulate other related industries such as the metal industry, the energy industry and the logistics industry, creating synergies and synergies in the whole economic ecosystem.

Increasing maritime defence and security capacity:

Relaunching shipbuilding would support the development of Romania’s maritime defence and security capacity. Building military and maritime surveillance vessels would strengthen Romania’s presence and influence in its maritime area of responsibility and contribute to maintaining regional security and stability.

Maritime spatial planning is a complex and essential process for the sustainable management of resources and activities in marine and maritime areas. It involves the development of policies, strategies and regulations to ensure the efficient and sustainable use of marine resources, the protection of the marine environment and the promotion of sustainable economic development in these areas. As a large part of the world’s resources are found in the marine environment, maritime spatial planning is becoming increasingly important for the proper management and protection of these valuable resources.

Maritime spatial planning is essential for the sustainable management of resources and activities in marine and maritime areas. This complex process is primarily aimed at ensuring efficient and sustainable use of marine resources, protecting the marine environment and promoting sustainable economic development.

Conservation of marine biodiversity is a crucial aspect of maritime spatial planning. Identifying and protecting vulnerable marine habitats and species helps to maintain ecological balance and conserve biological diversity.

Sustainable use of marine resources is another important aspect of maritime spatial planning. Through the development of appropriate strategies and regulations, responsible and balanced exploitation of resources such as fisheries, extraction of mineral and energy resources and tourism is sought to avoid depletion and degradation.

Protection of the marine environment is a particular concern in maritime spatial planning. By identifying the impact of human activities on marine ecosystems, measures and policies can be developed to prevent and reduce pollution, waste dumping and other threats to the marine environment. This ensures that the health of marine ecosystems is preserved and restored.

Sustainable economic development in maritime areas is another objective of maritime spatial planning. By identifying and developing the necessary infrastructure, such as ports, maritime terminals and logistics facilities, opportunities are created for the development of maritime industry, shipping, tourism and other related economic sectors. This contributes to job creation, economic growth and improved living standards in coastal communities.

Another important aspect of maritime spatial planning is coordination and collaboration between different stakeholders such as government authorities, local communities, maritime industry and non-governmental organisations. By involving these stakeholders and ensuring a participatory and transparent planning process, better solutions can be found and conflicts between different activities and uses avoided.

In the digital age we live in, digital transformation has become a necessity for all sectors of the economy, including the port industry. Port management has shifted from traditional methods to digital solutions to meet challenges and benefit from increased efficiency. A digitised port management brings with it numerous benefits, from optimising operations to improving safety and efficiency.

The digitisation of port management allows for the automation and optimisation of key processes such as cargo stock management and monitoring, document management, vessel scheduling and coordination, vessel traffic control and monitoring. By implementing a centralised and integrated system, reliance on paper and manual workflows is eliminated, increasing efficiency and reducing human error.

With a digital port administration, real-time information on all aspects of port activity can be accessed. From ship and cargo data to weather information and the state of port infrastructure, all can be centralised and made available in an easy-to-understand format. This allows decision-makers to make informed and strategic decisions in a timely manner, taking into account all relevant variables.

Digitised port management contributes to improved safety and security in ports. Through advanced monitoring and control systems, security threats and incidents, such as unauthorised intrusions or suspicious activities, can be detected and prevented. Technologies such as facial recognition or container scanning can also be deployed to check contents and prevent smuggling and illegal activities.

The digitisation of port management contributes to promoting sustainability and reducing environmental impact. By monitoring and managing resources efficiently, energy and fuel consumption can be minimised, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Environmental management systems can also be used to implement waste and water management practices and to conserve marine biodiversity. This ensures a balance between the economic development of ports and environmental protection.

A digitised port management contributes to the competitiveness of ports. By optimising processes and reducing waiting times, more efficient and faster services can be provided to ships and carriers. This attracts more operators and companies who will want to use the ports, thus generating economic growth and regional development.

The digitisation of port management facilitates collaboration and connectivity between all actors involved in port activity, including port authorities, carriers, logistics companies, shipping agents and customers. Through digital platforms, information can be shared and accessed in real time, facilitating coordination and synchronisation of activities. This leads to better integration and fluidity in the supply chain, ensuring efficient cargo management and a better experience for all involved.

  1. Importance of international representation in the European Union, International Maritime Organisation and BS (World Sailing)[4]

In the era of globalisation and inter-connectivity, international representation is becoming increasingly relevant and necessary within international institutions and organisations. Particularly in the maritime field, where global cooperation and coordination are vital, international representation plays a crucial role in promoting national interests and values and influencing decisions affecting the maritime industry as a whole. Thus, the European Union (EU), the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the Sailing and Water Sports Organisation (BS) are key platforms in this respect.

The European Union (EU) is a supranational organisation that brings together Europe’s Member States and promotes European integration in various fields, including maritime affairs. Through its institutions, such as the European Commission and the European Parliament, the EU has the power to develop and implement maritime policies and regulations throughout the Union. Romania’s international representation within the EU is essential to promote its national interests and to ensure that the specific concerns and requirements of the Romanian maritime industry are taken into account in the European decision-making process.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is the specialised agency of the United Nations (UN) responsible for regulating the maritime industry at the global level. Its main mission is to ensure the safety of shipping, the protection of the marine environment and the efficiency of maritime transport. The relevance of international representation in the IMO is obvious, as each member country has the right to express its position and participate in the decision-making process on global maritime regulations and policies. Through its representatives, Romania can contribute to the development of global maritime standards and practices, thus ensuring a safe, sustainable and efficient maritime industry.

World Sailing (BS) is an international structure that promotes the development and regulation of sailing and water sports globally. Bringing together sports federations and associations from around the world, BS provides a framework for coordinating competitions, setting standards and promoting the values of the sport.

Romania has representatives in these international organisations. Within the European Union (EU), Romania is represented by members of the Government and Members of the European Parliament, who are part of the relevant committees and working groups in the maritime field.

In the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Romania is represented by the Romanian Naval Agency, which is the national body responsible for regulating and supervising maritime activities. Romania can also delegate representatives to IMO sessions and committees to express its position and contribute to the global maritime decision-making process.

As far as World Sailing (BS) is concerned, Romania has representatives in the national federations and sports associations that are affiliated to BS. These representatives participate in international competitions and sporting events, work on the development and implementation of sporting regulations and standards and promote water sports at home and abroad.

Representing Romania in these international bodies is not just a formal exercise, but is of significant importance for our country. Active participation and involvement in the decision-making process allows us to promote national interests and contribute to the development and improvement of the maritime industry at a global level.

Through our representatives, we have the opportunity to raise Romania’s specific concerns regarding safety of navigation, protection of the marine environment, efficiency of maritime transport and development of port infrastructure. We can support initiatives that promote safety and quality in shipping, ensure a level playing field and create a proper legal framework for all parties involved.

Also, Romania’s representation in these international organisations provides us with a platform for collaboration and exchange of experience with other countries and partners, allowing us to learn from best practices and identify opportunities for development and innovation in our maritime industry.

Another important aspect of international representation is to strengthen Romania’s prestige and influence on the international scene. By actively engaging and building strong relationships with international partners, we can gain their trust and respect, which can lead to greater recognition and appreciation of our maritime skills and capabilities.

Romania, with access to the Black Sea and the Danube River, has significant maritime potential that can contribute substantially to its economic development and national prosperity. In this context, there is an urgent need to develop and implement a comprehensive and well thought-out Maritime Strategy that addresses the challenges and exploits the opportunities offered by the maritime environment.

An effective Maritime Strategy should have a primary objective of harnessing Romania’s maritime potential in a sustainable and responsible way. This would involve an integrated and coordinated approach to the development of the maritime sector, including maritime transport, nautical tourism, defence industry, fisheries and aquaculture, marine renewable energy and marine environmental protection. Such a strategy would contribute to creating an investment-friendly environment, stimulating economic development and job creation in maritime regions.

One of the biggest challenges for Romania is the diversification and modernisation of port infrastructure and shipping capacities. A well-designed maritime strategy could provide a clear framework for the development and modernisation of ports, facilitating international trade and strengthening Romania’s position as an important node on the maritime route map. This would include investments in port infrastructure, advanced technologies and logistics facilities, as well as the promotion of favourable policies and efficient procedures.

A maritime strategy should also pay particular attention to the protection of the marine environment and sustainable development. Romania has a responsibility to protect and conserve its marine wealth, as well as to address the challenges of marine pollution, biodiversity and climate change. A maritime strategy should promote sustainable practices in all maritime activities, stimulate innovation in environmentally friendly technologies and solutions, as well as encourage education and awareness on marine environmental protection.

Internationally, a coherent Maritime Strategy would enhance Romania’s representation and influence in global maritime bodies such as the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the European Union (EU). Active participation and involvement in international decision-making would allow Romania to promote its maritime interests and contribute to the development and implementation of relevant maritime policies and regulations. This would ensure that Romania has a strong voice in discussions and decisions on maritime security, protection of the marine environment, shipping, navigation and other key maritime issues.

A Maritime Strategy would also strengthen regional and international maritime cooperation. Romania could promote partnerships and collaboration with other Black Sea littoral states and other maritime countries to develop and implement joint projects in the fields of maritime transport, nautical tourism, fisheries and aquaculture, marine environmental protection and other areas of common interest. This would create opportunities to exchange know-how, increase investment and promote regional welfare and stability.

Fig. 2. The main strategic lines for achieving this vision

Maritime legislation plays a crucial role in regulating and promoting maritime activities in a country. As Romania has a long and rich maritime tradition, the revision and updating of maritime legislation becomes essential to respond to current requirements and challenges and to support the sustainable development and competitiveness of the maritime and port sector.

The review of maritime legislation provides an opportunity to improve and adapt the existing legal framework to align with international standards and new trends and innovations in the field. This involves assessing and updating laws, regulations and procedures to ensure effective and transparent governance in the maritime sector.

An important aspect of the review of maritime legislation is to promote the sustainable development of maritime activities. This may include the adoption of measures and policies for the protection of the marine environment, the sustainable management of marine resources and the promotion of environmentally responsible transport and operating practices. To this end, legislation must take into account the principles of sustainable development and set clear requirements and standards in this respect.

In addition, the revision of maritime legislation may also aim at facilitating trade and economic relations by simplifying procedures and reducing red tape. This can include simplifying customs and port formalities, creating an investment-friendly environment and promoting innovation in the maritime sector. By adopting appropriate policies and measures, Romania can attract investment and encourage the development of port infrastructure and the shipping industry.

The review of maritime legislation may also address issues related to safety and security of navigation. This includes regulations on ship safety, training and certification of seafarers, as well as procedures and protocols for accident prevention and emergency management in the maritime environment. Ensuring a safe and secure environment in the maritime sector is essential to protect human life, the marine environment and economic interests.

The revision of maritime legislation in Romania can be a complex and comprehensive process, involving consultation and collaboration with various stakeholders, including government authorities, the maritime industry, non-governmental organisations and other relevant organisations. It is important that the review is carried out through a transparent and participatory process in which all stakeholders have the opportunity to express their views and concerns.

An effective revision of maritime legislation must also take into account international developments in this field. Romania is part of relevant international organisations in the maritime sector, such as the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the European Union (EU), and compliance with the standards and regulations of these organisations is essential. The updating of legislation must take into account the directives and regulations issued by these organisations and transpose them into national legislation.

The revision of maritime legislation can bring many benefits for Romania. It can contribute to increasing the competitiveness of the maritime and port sector, attracting new investment and creating jobs. A modern and efficient legal framework can stimulate innovation and technological development in the industry, leading to increased performance and efficiency in maritime transport.

The revision of maritime legislation can also strengthen Romania’s role as an important player on the international maritime scene. By adopting modern legislation in line with international standards, Romania can gain the trust and respect of its international partners, facilitating collaboration and exchange of experience in the maritime field.

  1. A Strategic Maritime Fleet for Romania: Opportunities and Importance for National Security

A strategic maritime fleet means owning and operating a diverse range of military vessels and submarines capable of performing various missions in the maritime region. This includes warships, patrol vessels, transport ships, submarines and other specialised vessels, as well as maritime aircraft. The fleet would be equipped with advanced technologies, communications systems, sensors and modern weapons, capable of ensuring sovereignty, security and protection of Romania’s interests in the maritime environment.

The importance of a strategic maritime fleet for Romania is important. Firstly, such a fleet would allow Romania to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the maritime environment. The fleet could conduct patrols and monitoring of territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone, ensuring presence and control in these areas and countering any potential threats.

A strategic maritime fleet would also contribute to ensuring regional security and strengthening Romania’s partnerships and alliances within NATO and the EU. Active participation in joint maritime operations and exercises, cooperation with other Black Sea littoral states and international partners would strengthen defence capabilities and promote stability and cooperation in the region.

A strategic maritime fleet would also bring economic benefits. It would generate opportunities for the development of the maritime industry and the military-industrial complex, leading to job creation, technology transfer and stimulating innovation. Investment in the construction, modernisation and maintenance of ships and submarines would support the development of a strong and competitive maritime and naval sector.

Internationally, a strategic maritime fleet would strengthen Romania’s prestige and influence in the field of maritime security. Active participation in peacekeeping operations, combating piracy and illegal trafficking would enhance Romania’s international reputation and strengthen diplomatic and military relations with other states. Romania could also play an active role in regional and international decision-making processes, contributing to the establishment of maritime security policies and regulations.

In order to develop and maintain a strategic maritime fleet, Romania should pay particular attention to modernising port infrastructure and naval bases, as well as increasing shipbuilding and maintenance capabilities. Investments in research and development, training and education of naval personnel and the development of advanced maritime technologies are also crucial.

In addition, a strategic maritime fleet should be integrated into a broader national security approach, including cooperation with other relevant armed forces, intelligence services and civilian authorities. This would ensure effective coordination of efforts and optimal use of available resources.

A well-developed and implemented Maritime Strategy is an essential tool for Romania in promoting sustainable development and exploiting its maritime potential. Through an integrated and coordinated approach to the different aspects of the maritime sector, Romania can ensure economic development, job creation, protection of the marine environment and strengthen its international position. Broad collaboration between government authorities, the maritime industry, academia and other stakeholders is needed to successfully develop and implement such a strategy in order to contribute to Romania’s prosperous and sustainable future as a maritime nation.

Brief conclusions[5]

An analysis of Romania’s strategic naval positioning reveals strengths of which we do not seem fully aware and which are mainly due to the legacy of years of a system that has considered the naval sector of national strategic importance.

Romania has an extensive inland waterway network (Danube, Danube-Black Sea Canal, Poarta Albă-Midia-Năvodari Canal) and a territorially balanced port infrastructure connected by rail. The shipbuilding sector is well represented. The human resource in the shipbuilding sector is still one of Romania’s strengths, the result of an integrated, dedicated, specialised education system which is only just being set up in Western Europe, at a much reduced level of quantity. At present, Romania has the largest fleet of ships on the Danube.

The weaknesses lie in the obstinacy with which the political factor has managed to avoid putting naval issues on the public agenda. The apparently strategic position of the port of Constanta has its limits, mainly due to the size and financial constraints imposed on ships transiting the Turkish straits. The port of Constanta can only benefit from its links with the centre of Europe, in particular the pan-European Corridor VII, which follows the course of the Danube, if the commercial depth of the river’s waters is ensured. Given that the dredging of the Danube is carried out in sectors for which the riparian countries are responsible, the ridiculously low productivity of the Bulgarian authorities is affecting the flows of cargo shipped upstream and, directly, the port of Constanta.

The future of shipping in Romania is also affected by other unrecognised and consequently unaddressed problems. Demographic decline, lack of coordination, both within the naval institutional system and with the rest of the stakeholder matrix, bureaucratic barriers, timidly addressed digitisation, legislative framework incompatible with the reality of global shipping are factors that need to be taken into account when developing Romania’s maritime policy. Currently, Romania’s maritime strategy is the subject of a project coordinated by the Ministry of Transport; from the analysis of the first results, it seems that the focus of this strategy is the Romanian port industry and less the development of maritime transport as an industry in Romania.

In the current institutional and legislative context, it is more than unlikely that the private sector will be involved in the registration of Romanian-flagged shipping vessels, even assuming that the Romanian administration’s problems with international maritime conventions would disappear overnight. A private entity bases its financing on banks or consortia of banks that dictate the flag of the ship under construction according to the institutional trust relationship it has with the maritime administration under whose flag it will register its ship. As Romania’s maritime administration has consistently failed to deliver on its commitments over the last 30 years, the natural flow of shipbuilding financing and registration under the Romanian flag becomes impossible.

The involvement of a European state in maritime transport is nothing new. For example, Poland has two state-owned companies flying the Polish flag and offering more than 3,000 jobs: POLSTEAM and CHINAPOLBROCK, a joint Polish-Chinese company.

The revitalisation of maritime transport in Romania can only be started with the involvement of the state, which should take into account the substantial maritime heritage we still have and which has created a way of life for a large part of the population emotionally linked to the state’s maritime transport fleet. Despite the implosion of a large part of the national economy, Romania still has captive cargo categories (grain, auto, rolled products, liquid bulk products) with real commercial potential for domestic transport. In the absence of state intervention, the danger of Romania’s shipping power declining to extinction is more than possible.

An integrated approach to restore Romania’s naval capabilities in the context of the 21st century would mean preserving the country’s naval know-how and promote the sustainable development of naval activities whose tradition has been interrupted beyond recognition.

[1] Author: Admiral(rtr) PhD. Aurel POPA, President of the Maritime Security Forum, , .

[2] The concept of the Internet of Things (IoT) is widely known and used around the world. The term “Internet of Things” was introduced in the 1990s and has become increasingly popular as technology advances and interconnected devices and sensors proliferate. Through IoT, objects can be connected, communicate with each other and make decisions autonomously or be controlled remotely through apps or digital platforms.

[3] Blockchain is an innovative technology that serves as a secure, distributed ledger for recording and verifying transactions and other information. Essentially, it is a decentralised and transparent database that stores records in interconnected blocks and ensures their integrity and security through cryptography.

[4] World Sailing is the world’s leading sailing and watersports organisation. Founded in 1907 as the Fédération Internationale de Yacht Racing, the organisation changed its name to the International Sailing Federation in 1996 and finally to World Sailing in 2015.

[5] CLC Laurențiu MIRONESCU, COREMAR Director.

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