At the invitation of IMO Secretary-General Efthimios Mitropoulos, Mr. Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment, visited the Organization’s Headquarters on Thursday 27 January, to discuss issues of mutual concern.
Mr. Potočnik’s visit provided an opportunity for he and Mr. Mitropoulos to reflect on recent developments and future trends in environmental matters, as they relate to international shipping, from the particular perspectives of IMO and the European Commission (EC).
During discussions, Secretary-General Mitropoulos referred to IMO's long history of work on the setting of environmental protection standards for shipping engaged in international voyages – noting, in particular, the substantive contribution to that work by the Member States of the European Union (EU), as well as the need for international shipping to be regulated, in all technical respects, on a global basis, avoiding unilateral or regional measures that would hinder the industry’s operations and development.
The wide-ranging exchange of views also covered current topics such as atmospheric pollution from shipping (regulated by Annex VI of the MARPOL Convention), ballast water and ship recycling. Mr. Potočnik and Mr. Mitropoulos both affirmed their belief that the fuel supply industry has sufficient capacity to enable international shipping to meet the targets set under Annex VI for progressive emission reductions, for sulphur oxide (SOX) in particular. Both also welcomed the introduction of Emission Control Areas (ECAs) for the control of SOX emissions in the Baltic Sea and North Sea and agreed that the establishment of further ECAs would make an important contribution to the protection of the environment.
The provision of technical assistance to developing countries with a view to promoting global, uniform and effective implementation and enforcement of IMO standards was also discussed.
Mr. Potočnik affirmed his strong support for the objectives of IMO and emphasized that, in his view, there was a clear need for global regulation of international shipping. He expressed his intention to continue facilitating ratification and better implementation of the environmental treaty instruments adopted by the Organization, both within the EU and globally, and cited, by way of example, his personal engagement with all EU Governments urging them to ratify the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009, at the earliest opportunity.
Mr. Mitropoulos expressed his appreciation for the EU Members’ robust and sustained support for all aspects of IMO’s work.
The productive meeting confirmed the desire on both sides to continue and enhance the existing co-operation between IMO and the EU in responding effectively to the environmental challenges of the international shipping sector. They agreed to maintain an open line of communication and meet regularly to foster further collaboration on all issues of interest to both sides.
IMO – the International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.
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