Mitropoulos and EC Commissioner Borg in productive meeting



Mr. Joe Borg, EC Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs (left) with Secretary-General MitropoulosIMO Secretary-General Efthimios Mitropoulos and Mr. Joe Borg, European Commissioner responsible for fisheries and maritime affairs, met at IMO Headquarters on Wednesday, 26 January to discuss issues of mutual concern. The meeting took place following an invitation by Mr. Mitropoulos, soon after the appointment of the new European Commission, that the two men should get together to establish a good working relationship, reflect on recent developments and others anticipated in the future and to set a course to better serve the maritime community from the IMO's and EC's particular perspectives. Meetings are also being organized with other EC Commissioners whose portfolios include matters of interest to IMO.

During the meeting, Mr. Mitropoulos referred to IMO's work on the setting of safety, security and pollution prevention standards for shipping engaged in international voyages and, in particular, standards for the safety of fishing vessels and for the training and certification of fishing vessel personnel. Loss of life on fishing vessels is unacceptably high and two key international conventions adopted under the aegis of IMO (the 1993 Torremolinos Protocol for the Safety of Fishing Vessels and the 1995 International Convention on Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel) aiming to address this have yet to enter into force.

Mr. Mitropoulos said that the ratification of the two instruments by the Member States of the European Union would significantly expedite their entry into force and enhance their global implementation. Mr. Borg, agreeing that international regulation of such measures was important, added that European funding was currently available to the EU Member States to facilitate the upgrading of the safety of fishing vessels. He said that awareness of the need to focus attentionon safety and training of fishermen was growing and that the proposed European fisheries fund (from 2007-2013) would continue to provide support for this.

Mr. Borg outlined the measures that are being taken to ensure sustainable fisheries in the European Union and also described the tasks involved in his responsibility for maritime affairs. He further stated that a taskforce of commissioners with responsibility for maritime issues will soon be formed to prepare a consultation paper on a possible maritime policy for the European Union. In this context, he welcomed any contribution that the IMO could make to this process.

The meeting also focussed on protection of the marine environment and vulnerable resources, including the need to ratify and implement the newest marine environment conventions developed by IMO, i.e. the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems, adopted in 2001, and the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, adopted in 2004.

Mr. Mitropoulos and Mr. Borg agreed on the need for compliance with existing international standards and further harmonization of standards globally.

The productive meeting confirmed the desire on both sides to continue and enhance the existing co-operation between IMO and the European Commission so that maritime safety, security and environmental protection are well served in pursuit of common goals. They agreed to maintain a line of communication to foster further co-operation on all issues of common interest.

Briefing 08/2005
27 January 2005

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