At the invitation of IMO Secretary-General Efthimios Mitropoulos, Mr. Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Transport, visited the Organization’s Headquarters on Thursday, 8 July, to discuss issues of mutual concern. Similar invitations were sent to all Commissioners whose portfolios include matters of interest to IMO, following their appointment in February 2010. Commissioners M. Damanaki (Maritime Affairs and Fisheries) and C. Hedegaard (Climate Action) have already visited IMO (see IMO Briefings 18/2010 and 22/2010). Environment Commissioner, Mr. J. Potočnik, is due to come to London shortly.
Mr. Kallas’s visit provided an opportunity for him and Mr. Mitropoulos to establish a good working relationship, reflect on recent developments and future trends in shipping and set a course to better serve the global maritime community from the particular perspectives of IMO and the European Commission (EC).
During discussions, Secretary-General Mitropoulos referred to IMO's work on the setting of safety, security and pollution prevention 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 the recent unanimous adoption of the Manila amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (see IMO Briefings 328/2010, 33/2010 and 34/2010); the institutionalization of the Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme; the ongoing development by IMO of a Code for Recognized Organizations; and the provision of technical assistance to developing countries with a view to promoting global, uniform and effective implementation and enforcement of IMO standards.
Mr. Kallas affirmed his support for the shared objectives of IMO as well as his intention to facilitate improved ratification and implementation of treaty instruments adopted by the Organization, both within the EU and globally. In expressing appreciation for the EU Members’ continuing strong support for all fields of IMO’s work, Mr. Mitropoulos also referred to the contribution that Operation Atalanta is making in protecting international shipping, seafarers, passengers and fishermen from acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden. In this respect, Mr. Kallas confirmed the EC’s willingness to contribute to the promotion of the theme for World Maritime Day 2011, which will be “Piracy: orchestrating the response”.
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 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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