Brussels calls on ‘wise men’ to help protect European shipping

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The European Commission has invited a think tank of industry ‘wise men’ to help it come up with ideas to protect Europe’s maritime cluster and to ensure a future flow of European seafarers.

It is part of a planned strategy to improve and maintain the strength of European shipping over the next 10 years.

The personally invited group, which is composed of high ranking executives from a wide variety of sectors in shipping and the maritime transport cluster, held its first meeting in Brussels last week.

They include Detthold Aden, BLG Logistic Group; John Coustas, Danaos Corporation; Leo Delwaide, ex-Port of Antwerp; Philippe Louis-Dreyfus, Louis Dreyfus group; Cecilia Eckelmann-Battistello, Contship Italia, Eurokai; Nikos Efthymiou, Union of Greek Shipowners; Elisabeth Grieg, Grieg Shipping Group; Emanuele Grimaldi, Grimaldi Lines; Dagfinn Lunde, DVB Bank; Brian Orell, NAUTILUS; Knud Pontoppidan, A.P. Møller –Mærsk and Marnix van Overklift from the Seatrade Group

This strategic exercise is carried out in a joint effort with the maritime transport administrations of the European Economic Area Member States and is part of a strategic study into the European maritime industry between now and 2018.

According to the Commission, Europe needs to guarantee that maritime transport can accommodate the fast changes in the globalised world and look into a bright future. It also needs to maintain a competitive European maritime cluster with highly qualified seafarers and maritime professionals.

The current exercise is part of the EU Integrated Maritime Policy. It covers the strategically vital sector of maritime transport that creates, among others, significant added value and EU employment. The exercise follows the renewed Lisbon strategy and 2006 mid-term review of the White Paper on Transport Policy.

The Commission said in a statement: “European shipping is one of the most competitive shipping industries in the world. It represents 42% of the world merchant fleet and is present in all segments of the shipping markets. European shipping services sustain also a substantial part of the intra EU sea-borne trade, of the seaborne connections between Europe and its main trade partners and of cross trades between third countries.

“Almost 90% of the European Union’s external trade goes by sea. Short sea shipping performs over 40% in intra-EU tonne-kilometres. That equates to about 3.5 billion tonnes of freight loaded and unloaded (of which more than 90 million container transfers) in EU ports and 350 million passengers transported every year.

“The EU is committed to supporting this sector to thrive, contribute to the EU economical growth and provide jobs in an innovative, safe and environmentally sustainable manner,” it said.