Second IMO EC meeting reinforces working relationship

Joint Communiqué

Mr. Jacques Barrot (left) and Mr. Efthimios MitropoulosAt the invitation of Mr. Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Transport, the IMO Secretary-General, Mr. Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, visited the Headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels, on Thursday, 16 March 2006, within the framework of co-operation between the two sides aimed at promoting maritime safety and security and environmental protection. The meeting was the second between the two, following Mr. Barrot's visit to the IMO Headquarters in February 2005.

The following topics were discussed during the meeting:

  • the Commission's Third Maritime Safety Package;
  • EU competencies and IMO treaties;
  • the Green Paper on Ocean and Seas; and
  • EC membership of IMO and relations between the two institutions.

The two sides reiterated their basic agreement concerning IMO's leading role worldwide in the development and adoption of global technical maritime standards, while recognizing the European Union's efforts aimed at enhanced maritime safety and, in particular, at ensuring a harmonized and controlled implementation of IMO rules in Europe and its contribution to their regular updating and improvement through the IMO mechanisms.

"I believe in strong co-operation between the European Commission and the International Maritime Organization. With thousands of kilometres of coastline and a fleet of some 11,000 ships controlled by European owners, Europe can make a meaningful contribution to safe quality shipping worldwide. Regular meetings between Efthimios Mitropoulos and me will allow for mutually reinforcing European maritime transport and IMO policies" said Mr. Barrot.

In this respect, Mr. Barrot reiterated the desire of the EU to attain the highest possible standards and its determination to lead the way in this regard. The latest proposals adopted by the European Commission as its 3rd Maritime Safety Package were a case in point since they sought to serve, taking into account IMO rules and recommendations, the dual purpose of improving accident and pollution prevention and dealing with the aftermath of accidents.

Mr. Mitropoulos welcomed this ambition, noted the Commission's intention to incorporate IMO rules and recommendations into Community law and stressed the importance of the pursuit of the highest practicable standards through IMO, together with any experience gained in their effective implementation and enforcement, so that international shipping as a whole might benefit. Mr. Mitropoulos added "The two sides work in partnership to enhance safety, security and the protection of the marine environment and I appreciate the leading role that the EU members and the European Commission play in the efforts of IMO to develop and adopt the highest practicable standards affecting shipping engaged in international trade".

With many of the most significant IMO treaties, such as the SOLAS, Load Lines, STCW and MARPOL Conventions now applying to more than 90 per cent of global merchant tonnage, Mr. Mitropoulos spoke of the desirability of bringing other IMO instruments, such as those dealing with ballast water management, anti-fouling systems, hazardous and noxious substances and bunkers, into force at the earliest possible date. He stressed the significant part that EU members could play through their early ratification of such measures and the example they could set by so doing.

Both parties also exchanged views on how the relationship between the IMO and the European Union could be strengthened.

The two sides expressed satisfaction with the positive and constructive outcome of their deliberations, which provided both with an opportunity to present their views and become aware of each other's position on the issues discussed. They agreed to keep an open dialogue to promote the many areas of common interest in a manner benefiting international shipping and to meet on a half-yearly basis in the future.

Briefing 09, 17 March 2006

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