German shipowners call for flag reform

The German Shipowners’ Association (VDR) is quite satisfied with the development of the German fleet


The German flag debate has shifted from cost concerns to administrative quality, focusing on reducing bureaucracy, digitalization, and a uniform flag state administration.

At the VDR’s annual review, Managing Director Martin Kröger highlighted flag management. Germany’s flag ranks 34th on the “Paris MoU” performance list, with 48.9% of ships under an EU flag. Popular registers include Portugal (386 ships), Cyprus (135), Malta (41), Antigua & Barbuda (429), and Liberia (400). The German flag is on 259 ships, indicating room for improvement.

Kröger emphasized the importance of political initiatives to reduce bureaucracy but expressed concern about security, noting that Germany lags in the Paris MoU rankings. Other registers like Cyprus, Liberia, Portugal, Malta, and Antigua & Barbuda rank higher. To attract shipowners, Kröger and VDR President Gaby Bornheim suggest streamlining administration, as other flags are more efficient. Efforts are underway to simplify structures under the Federal Ministry of Transport, but details remain unclear. The federal policy is addressing the issue, with BG Verkehr and the Ministry initiating talks to reduce bureaucracy and enhance digitalization.

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