Joint Communiqué

IMO Secretary-General Mr. Efthimios E. Mitropoulos and Mrs. Loyola de Palacio, Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Transport and Energy, have jointly expressed their satisfaction at the positive and constructive manner and outcome of their meeting in Brussels on Wednesday, 21 January 2004.

The meeting was arranged for the purpose of fostering a better understanding of the relationship between IMO and the European Commission in order that the already existing co-operation between the two bodies may be further enhanced, so that maritime safety and security as well as environmental protection are better served in the future.

The two sides reiterated their previous understanding as to IMO's leading role worldwide in the development and adoption of global standards for shipping engaged in international trade. The role and responsibilities of the European Union to provide appropriate coastal protection at European level were equally recognised.

Mr. Mitropoulos welcomed the support of the European Commission for IMO's work in setting the highest practicable standards for the purpose of making shipping safer, more secure and more environmentally friendly. He also welcomed the Commission's endeavours to implement and enforce such standards within the European Union. For her part, Mrs de Palacio stressed the contribution of the EU through its own legislation to maritime safety. She also stressed the EU contribution in the development, through IMO, of global maritime safety standards, as well as their effective implementation within the enlarged Union with the technical support of the recently established European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).

Mrs. de Palacio expressed satisfaction with recent developments at IMO concerning maritime safety and security and protection of the marine environment (in particular, the successful outcome of the December session of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee) and pledged her support to a successful outcome to next month's conference on ballast water management. Both sides looked forward to the further development and effective implementation of the Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme and agreed on the benefits to be gained from promoting a proactive approach to prevent accidents in the future.

Mrs. de Palacio recalled the importance which the European Commission attaches to the strict compliance by flag States of their duties under international law, as well as to the better protection of coastal States against the increasingly damaging consequences of accidents and pollution at sea.

Both expressed concern at the reported slow pace of implementation of the IMO measures to enhance maritime security and urged all parties concerned to intensify their efforts to implement those measures without delay.

Mr. Mitropoulos and Mrs. de Palacio agreed to keep each other informed of developments pertaining to maritime safety and security and environmental protection, to ensure the maximum degree of co- operation and co-ordination in the pursuit of the two Organization's common goals.

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IMO - the International Maritime Organization - is the United Nations Specialized Agency with responsibility for the safety of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

Web site: www.imo.org

For further information please contact:
Lee Adamson, Senior External Relations Officer on 020 7587 3153 (media@imo.org) or Natasha Brown, External Relations Officer on 020 7587 3274 (media@imo.org ).