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ECSA adopts position on European policy for the Arctic

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Patrick Verhoeven

Patrick Verhoeven

European shipowners welcomed earlier this year the adoption of the integrated European Union policy for the Arctic region. “We believe that the three priority areas identified cover all topical Arctic matters. Climate change and environment, sustainable development and international cooperation all deserve equal attention”, said ECSA Secretary General Patrick Verhoeven. As the European Commission is implementing the EU policy and as the European parliament is working on its own-initiative report, European shipowners now adopted a position paper endorsing a number of EU actions that are expected to concretely improve polar shipping conditions.

ECSA appreciates particularly that the EU supports the efforts to implement the International Code for ships operating in polar waters (Polar Code) as adopted by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The Polar Code, which will enter into force on January 2017, is mandatory and uniform regulation which ensures a level playing field. It will boost the level of confidence in the safety and environmental performance of shipping.

“We do expect polar shipping to grow in volume in the coming years and are indeed pleased that precautions have been taken to ensure safety of life at sea. The sustainability of this highly sensitive environment cannot be compromised”, said Patrick Verhoeven. “While the IMO remains the prime regulator for the shipping industry, we appreciate that the EU supports the efforts to implement the Polar Code. We also endorse the actions included in the policy that will concretely improve polar shipping conditions and help overcome the challenges we are confronted with in the area”, he added.

European shipowners believe that the EU could add value mainly in five areas: development of critical maritime infrastructure; increase of knowledge for the region; protection of the Arctic climate; coordination with the Arctic States by recognising their special responsibilities; increase of awareness about operators’ contribution to the development of the area.

European Shipowners appreciate the focus of the EU to the Arctic matters by developing this more coherent framework for EU action and funding programmes in the Arctic. The adoption of the European Parliament resolution is expected in the first quarter of 2016. In all follow-up actions the Arctic States should continue to be consulted by the EU.

The ECSA position paper can be found here.

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