Maritime sector Luxembourg, a maritime alternative

Even though Luxembourg does not have direct access to the sea, the maritime sector has been developing since the 1990s. More than 200 ships fly the flag boasting the red lion and around 225 companies active in the sector are established in Luxembourg. These companies include leading global stakeholders.

Supporting the blue economy

Luxembourg presents itself as an ideal business location for maritime companies. It offers a well-developed infrastructure, an attractive economic environment and excellent opportunities in the field of research and development.

In fact, a large number of companies active in this sector are established in Luxembourg. They include ship owners, ship management, ship building, dredging and logistics companies as well as service providers – consulting, law firms and insurers, experts in finance – and even stakeholders in the space sector who are capable of providing maritime surveillance solutions. The Luxembourg maritime sector is growing and currently employs approximately 1,000 people!

How can a landlocked country with no navy or maritime history play host a significant merchant fleet?

The key to unlocking this industry lies in the legal framework. As such, the Grand Duchy offers competitive and flexible conditions, while strictly adhering to the guidelines issued by the relevant international organisations. As part of its economic diversification, Luxembourg decided to create the public maritime register in 1990.

In only 30 years, the maritime fleet flying Luxembourg flag has grown from 54 ships in 1993 to 216 ships in 2020. Let us put this figure in perspective: 670 ships are registered in Greece, while the country controls a fleet of over 4,000 ships, and 300 in Germany, out of a merchant fleet of about 2,000 ships.

Since launching the register, Luxembourg has carved out a niche in the sector, which consists of small transporters, dredgers,tugs and supply ships.

The Luxembourg Maritime Cluster ('Cluster maritime luxembourgeois') was launched in 2008 in order to further facilitate the development of the maritime sector. Its objective is to develop and promote the blue economy in Luxembourg. The alliances formed with, among others, the Luxembourg Cluster for Logistics and the European Network of Maritime Clusters make networking much easier.

Single point of contact

The Luxembourg Maritime Administration was created in 1991. It is the contact point for all matters relating to the maritime sector. The Administration acts as the supervisory authority for the sector and, more specifically, for licensed shipping companies operating out of Luxembourg. It also ensures compliance with the provisions set out by the law and is responsible for monitoring the development of international maritime law, particularly within the European Union.

It also acts as a service provider, for which quality and efficiency are key attributes. To this end, it set up a system of quality management in 2000. This system is certified by the TÜV Rheinland and audited on a regular basis according to ISO 9001:2015 requirements.

Sailing towards a more sustainable maritime future

Growing demands for a more sustainable economy as well as the global drive to reduce emissions represent one of the major challenges for the fuel-dependent maritime sector. The maritime industries are gradually appreciating their vital role in the energy transition, and are studying alternative fuels and emission-reduction technologies.

The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL 73/78) is the starting point in terms of environmental compliance. Additionally, in 2013, the European Commission set out a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the shipping sector. Large ships of more than 5,000 tons loading and unloading in European Economic Area ports must adhere to this strategy.

In this regard, one of Luxembourg's maritime companies has taken the lead with a brand new rating established in 2019 by Bureau Veritas: Ultra-Low Emission vessels (ULEv). The company, Jan de Nul, has been awarded this rating for its ultra-low emission, diesel-electric powered vessels with a performance that exceeds the regulatory requirements.