Hosted by its member Alexander G. Tsavliris & Sons Maritime Co the European Tugowners Association gathered in Athens for its highly attended 52nd Annual Meeting.

The programme included a meeting of the Supervisory Committee, the Annual General Meeting of Members, a Conference and a Social Day.

The Supervisory Committee and the Annual General Meeting of Members noted and reconfirmed with satisfaction the recent incorporation of ETA as a non-profit organisation under Belgian Statutory Law and its registration in Brussels acquiring legal personality forthwith.

Matters brought forward by the Board of Directors were the successful outcome of the European Shipping Week in Brussels in March 2015 upon initiative of ECSA, to which ETA contributed actively in its capacity of member of the Steering Committee.

The Chairman, Mr Peter Vierstraete, General Manager of Smit Northwest Europe, underlined the importance of this event in bringing the paramount role of Shipping to the forefront of the European authorities’ attention.

Secretary General Mr Hugo Callens further illustrated the Chairman’s positive reflection by mentioning the visit to the port of Antwerp, organised in cooperation with EMPA, the dock pilots of BRABO and the Port of Antwerp, offering a platform to introduce the ETA Guidelines for Safe Towage Operations, drafted and published by the Nautical Technical Committee and presented by Cpt Yves Beeckman.

Much consideration was given by the Members to the progress of the legislative process on the European Commission’s proposed Draft Regulation on market access to port services and transparency in port finances.

The members, who hitherto had concluded to rejection of the Draft, noted with satisfaction that the Rapporteur and the Commissioner of Transport seemed to realise that limitation of the scope of the market access chapter to only a limited number of port services, such as towage and mooring, while leaving out cargo handling, passenger services, dredging and partly, pilotage, illustrated the obsolete and disproportioned character of relevant provisions.

Mr Fleckenstein’s publicly defended opinion that Chapter II of the Draft covering market access should be drastically revisited by taking out all port services instead of only a selection of them was noted with great interest by ETA members.

The members elected Mr Mario Mizzi, CEO of Tug Malta as their new chairman in succession to Mr Vierstraete and Mr Leendert Muller from Dutch member Multraship to the position of Deputy Chairman. Both will serve on the Board of Directors for the next two years.

 Mr Ioannis Theotokas, Deputy Secretary General from the Greek Ministry of Economy, Infrastructure, Maritime Affairs and Tourism opened the conference that ensued immediately after the AGM.

The President of the International Propeller Club (Port of Piraeus) Mr George Xiradakis was the first of four guest speakers invited to speak at the conference, this year having the theme “Towage in a Global Shipping Context”.

The speaker enlightened the participating audience with how shipping and maritime affairs in general, thanks to the geo-morphosis of the Islands, evolved to become one of the most sustainable pillars of the Greek Economy placing the country as a respectable leader in the shipping world.

Mr Yiorgos Anomeritis – Chairman and Managing Director of the Piraeus Port Authority gave an expose of the valued importance of the Piraeus Port.

Mr Steve Dougal of Century Marine, shipbroker and Associate Member of ETA, portrayed the evolution of the interoperability between harbour tugs and offshore towage.

Lastly Mr Roger Clasquin from the Port of Rotterdam International wrapped up the conference by tackling the subject of the Evolution of Ports as Business Partner, Blending Public Duty with Business Development.

The events were co-hosted and sponsored by Greek Members Gigilinis Shipping Group, Nicolas E. Vernicos Maritime Group Ltd, and sponsored by Associate Members ABC Diesel -Anglo Belgian Corporation, Damen Shipyard Group, Redwise Maritime Services, Sanmar Shipyard, Schottel GmbH, The Shipowners Club, TOS Transport & Offshore Services, Uzmar Shipbuilding Industry and Trade Inc and Voith.

The programme spanning over three days attracted the record participation of members and associated members, many of whom accompanied by partners and guests who were charmed by the beauty of the surrounding mountains, captivated by the tradition and cultural of ancient Greece and fascinated by the breeze of the Aegean sea against which setting meetings and conference were organised.

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