ªar­itime sec­tor wants “more Europe” on ship­ping is­sues

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Ship­ping and ship owner’s as­so­ci­a­tions have called for “more Europe” in­clud­ing the cre­ation of a com­mon reg­u­la­tory sys­tem and com­ple­tion of the sin­gle.

Speak­ing at the Mar­itime Cyprus con­fer­ence in Li­mas­sol, Thomas Re­hder, Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Com­mu­nity Shipown­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion said that “as long as ship­ping is not as easy and straight for­ward as run­ning a truck, we have not com­pleted the Euro­pean Sin­gle Mar­ket.”

In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime Or­gan­i­sa­tion Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Koji Sekimizu said that the gov­er­nance of the in­ter­na­tional ship­ping has al­ways been, is and will al­ways be the sub­ject of pol­i­tics. “This is a sim­ple fact. Pol­i­tics has played a ma­jor role in the gov­er­nance of the in­ter­na­tional ship­ping”, he said.

Sekimizu added that all the states have a re­spon­si­bil­ity for the gov­er­nance of in­ter­na­tional ship­ping as this is a global is­sue. He also noted that uni­ver­sal­ity is a value which IMO has to­gether with the ship­ping in­dus­try gen­er­ated over the last five and a half decades.

He said that the IMO is mov­ing ahead when it comes to im­ple­men­ta­tion, and that it has adopted a very im­por­tant leg­is­la­tion to es­tab­lish mem­ber states’ au­dit sys­tem. “And IMO is go­ing to look into the per­for­mance of the flag state and por­tal state,” he stressed.

“My point is that the global sys­tem was cre­ated by gov­ern­ments and in­dus­try and to­gether with the IMO. I am sure this sys­tem will con­tinue to serve a sus­tain­able ship­ping in­dus­try,” he added.

As­sis­tant Com­man­dant for Preven­tion Pol­icy of the US Coast Guard, Paul Thomas, said that all the stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing NGOs, politi­cians and the shore side as­pects of this in­dus­try, need to work to­gether, to build a sys­tem of gov­er­nance in or­der to meet the chal­lenges that ship­ping faces in the fu­ture.

“There are sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges, in­clud­ing the rep­u­ta­tion that this in­dus­try has as be­ing law­less,” he said, not­ing that there are other chal­lenges as well, such as the need to con­tin­u­ously grow the ca­pac­ity of the sys­tems, not just as it con­cerns the ships but also re­gard­ing the ports, and that the en­vi­ron­men­tal foot­print must be de­creased.

Thomas said that those chal­lenges re­quire all stake­hold­ers to work to­gether to al­low this in­dus­try to flour­ish. “I don’t see it as a com­pe­ti­tion or even as an op­po­si­tion but as each of the stake­hold­ers have a crit­i­cal role to play,” he noted.

Vice Chair­man of the In­ter­na­tional Cham­ber of Ship­ping Kerin Orsel said that she is im­pressed by co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the ship­ping in­dus­try in Cyprus adding that this is a very good ex­am­ple to be fol­lowed.

She said that the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the ICS and the IMO is based on co­op­er­a­tion, adding that “we are all com­mit­ted to con­tinue im­prov­ing mar­itime safety and pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment”.

“At this mo­ment Europe wants to make a voice and is cre­at­ing rules and reg­u­la­tions which is some­times ahead of the IMO and which all brings us in a very dif­fi­cult po­si­tion”, she added.

Thomas Re­hder added that he does not think that the re­la­tion be­tween reg­u­la­tors and in­dus­try is an­tag­o­nis­tic and con­tro­ver­sial but com­ple­men­tary. “It should be com­ple­men­tary be­cause Euro­pean ship­ping is on the one hand a mar­ket leader in the world, over 40% of the world ship­ping is con­trolled in Europe, but on the other hand Euro­pean ships spend over 90% of their time in non-Euro­pean wa­ters,” he noted.

Re­hder re­ferred to the agenda of Jean Claude Juncker’s Com­mis­sion and how this is re­lated with ship­ping. “We could go back to the agenda of the Juncker Com­mis­sion. Juncker un­der­stands the role of the Com­mis­sion as very po­lit­i­cal and they have set a num­ber of goals, amongst oth­ers the stim­u­la­tion of growth, cre­ation of em­ploy­ment, a dig­i­tal agenda, and com­ple­tion of the Euro­pean Sin­gle Mar­ket. And all of that very much un­der the per­spec­tive of im­prov­ing Europe’s com­pet­i­tive­ness on a world wide scale,” he pointed out. “But com­ple­tion of the Sin­gle Mar­ket is a true Euro­pean is­sue.”

As he ex­plained, when some­one looks at com­plet­ing the Sin­gle Mar­ket there is no bet­ter ex­am­ple than short sea ship­ping. “It is in many ways a low hang­ing fruit to be picked,” he said, in­di­cat­ing that when a truck is used to trans­fer goods in Europe only one doc­u­ment is needed, but when a ship is used there are as much as 90 doc­u­men­tary steps to be ful­filled “and at the same time you have to deal with dif­fer­ent coun­tries” with dif­fer­ent reg­u­la­tions, in­stead of deal­ing with just one set of EU reg­u­la­tions.

Host Trans­port, Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Works Min­is­ter Mar­ios Deme­tri­ades said that pres­ence of the IMO Sec­re­tary Gen­eral at the con­fer­ence “high­lights the im­por­tance or the ship­ping in­dus­try world­wide. From our part, from the gov­ern­ments’ point of view, we will do what is pos­si­ble not only to main­tain the strength of our ship­ping sec­tor but to en­force it and to in­crease it”.

In his open­ing ad­dress to the con­fer­ence, read out by Deme­tri­ades, Pres­i­dent Anas­tasi­ades said that the dis­cov­ery of hy­dro­car­bons in our Ex­clu­sive Eco­nomic Zone cre­ates new prospects for our coun­try and our econ­omy and widens the hori­zons of our ship­ping in­dus­try.

Anas­tasi­ades said that the ship­ping in­dus­try in Cyprus is a sec­tor that op­er­ates on a global scale, and whose size and in­ter­na­tional im­por­tance go far be­yond the size of the coun­try.

To­day, he noted, “Cyprus is an in­ter­na­tional ship­ping power and a renowned mar­itime cen­tre com­bin­ing a sov­er­eign flag and a res­i­dent ship­ping in­dus­try with high qual­ity ser­vices and stan­dards of safety and se­cu­rity”.

De­spite the eco­nomic cri­sis dur­ing the last few years, he added, “ship­ping re­lated com­pa­nies con­tinue to trust Cyprus as a base for their oper­a­tions prov­ing that the is­land re­mains, for a mul­ti­tude of rea­sons, a good place to do busi­ness in and from”.

The ship­ping in­dus­try, he said, “is a vi­tal sec­tor of the Cyprus econ­omy and a cat­a­lyst for eco­nomic growth. The gov­ern­ment is now ad­vanc­ing on our struc­tural re­form agenda with the aim of set­ting the foun­da­tions for sus­tain­able growth in the long run, at­tract­ing for­eign di­rect in­vest­ments and even­tu­ally cre­at­ing a new eco­nomic model for the coun­try”.

He as­sured the con­fer­ence par­tic­i­pants that the gov­ern­ment “is fully com­mit­ted to safe­guard­ing the ship­ping and mar­itime sec­tor by do­ing its ut­most to guar­an­tee its con­tin­u­ous sus­tain­able growth.”

The Pres­i­dent stressed that “the dis­cov­ery of hy­dro­car­bons in our Ex­clu­sive Eco­nomic Zone cre­ates new prospects for our coun­try and our econ­omy. These new de­vel­op­ments widen the hori­zons of our ship­ping in­dus­try, cre­at­ing rel­e­vant syn­er­gies and op­por­tu­ni­ties. A whole new in­dus­try is cur­rently be­ing cre­ated in Cyprus to meet the needs of the off­shore ex­plo­ration and pro­duc­tion of gas and oil ac­tiv­i­ties”.

“It is also an­tic­i­pated that for­eign ship­ping com­pa­nies will re­lo­cate their of­fices and oper­a­tions on our is­land in or­der to ex­plore the ben­e­fits of the emerg­ing east Mediter­ranean off­shore mar­ket”.

Con­fer­ence Chair­man and Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary of the Min­istry of Trans­port, Ale­cos Michaelides, said that “we in Cyprus are very proud of our mar­itime tra­di­tion and cul­ture and we put great em­pha­sis to the needs of those who fly the Cyprus flag on the stern of their ships, a ‘high qual­ity and re­spected flag’. At the same time, we pro­vide all nec­es­sary as­sis­tance to our res­i­dent mar­itime clus­ter that grows in size steadily since the 1970s,” he con­cluded.

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