Yesterday, EU Maritime Ministers met in Athens under the chairmanship of the Greek Minister of Shipping, Maritime Affairs and the Aegean, Mr Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, to discuss the mid-term review of the European Commission’s 2009 Maritime Strategy Communication. At the informal meeting, Ministers unanimously adopted a Declaration, which sets out the EU’s shipping policy priorities for the years to come. The Declaration constitutes the basis for the adoption of formal conclusions by the EU Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council in June this year.
Key priorities emerging from the ‘Athens Declaration’ include: the important role of shipping to Europe’s economy and welfare, securing the long-term competitiveness of the EU maritime industry, increased employment in the maritime sector, free access to markets, financial support for short sea shipping to comply with environmental requirements, efficient EU-wide digital maritime services, EU leadership in maritime technology and innovation and the territorial and social integration of smaller and remote islands.
“We applaud the initiative of the Greek Presidency and welcome the positive and forward-looking Declaration that Ministers adopted in Athens yesterday”, said ECSA Secretary General Patrick Verhoeven, “In particular, we support Ministers’ recognition to maintain a stable and innovation-friendly framework, ensuring competitiveness of EU fleets, providing legal certainty for investments and stimulating the establishment of maritime activities in EU Member States in a context of liberalised maritime services. We are furthermore delighted that Ministers explicitly recognise the vital role the EU State aid regime for maritime transport plays in achieving these goals.”
In response to the Declaration, ECSA issued a statement in which it highlights five areas that should continue to form the basis of EU shipping policy in the future. These areas, and the priorities contained therein, largely correspond to the priorities Ministers identified in Athens. They include: a global level playing field and competition with other maritime powers on an equal footing, improved environmental performance without losing competitive edge, promotion of maritime careers and improvement of the sector’s image, completion of the single market for shipping and ports and, last but not least, continued EU leadership in promoting free global trade and eradicating piracy.
The text of the Athens Declaration and all related media material can be found on the website of the Greek Presidency.
The ECSA statement is available here.