Brussels hosted for a second time the European Shipping Week. The event organised by ECSA, put the shipping industry in the spotlight of the EU policy debate and gave the sector the visibility it deserved. ETA, as a partner of the ESW steering committee had a very active role during the 5 days, which helped to outline the challenges affecting the towage sector and the essential role it plays in the maritime sector.
ETA coorganized with the Permanent Representation of Malta, on the Monday of the 27th of February, a workshop on the digitalization of the shipping industry. The event brought together EU and national policy makers, representatives of the industry and the media to discuss how the digital technologies represent a challenge and a big opportunity for the sector. The workshop was opened by Joe Mizzi, Maltese Minister of Transport who outlined the Council Presidency programme concerning shipping policy. Regarding the workshop, it discussed the many challenges and opportunities the sector faces at using the digital technologies, especially when implementing the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan. The workshop was complemented by a second panel composed by representatives of the European Commission and the European Maritime Safety Agency who described the state of play and actions aimed at implementing a true European Maritime Single Window. You can find the presentations below:
On the 27th afternoon, ETA also hosted a new meeting of its Nautical and Technical Committee. The reunion chaired by Capt. Lehto analysed several safety issues affecting the towage sector as the choice, use and durability of ropes, ballast water management or the safety of towing operations. NTC members also expressed their intention to study the development of new safety guidelines and strengthen the Committee with more regular meetings.
ETA Sec. General, Anna Maria Darmanin also participated in a public hearing organized by the European Economic and Social Committee as an expert representing the towage industry. Ms. Darmanin described the current issues affecting the towage sector and discussed with other experts speaking for ports and transport workers, the many important trends influencing maritime transport such as, market access, the growing need for intermodality or the multiple social issues affecting maritime companies and seafarers.
The 2nd of March was reserved for the policy makers excursion to the port of Antwerp. The visit successfully showcased the essential role that the maritime industries play for the EU economies. Thus, the dozens of EU institutions officials could discover and familiarise themselves with the towage sector, as they had the opportunity to get on board Kotug Smit Union Panda tugboat. Once there, the ship crew and ETA Secretariat explained the excursion participants the importance of coastal and port towage operations, the different services a tugboat can deliver and life on board. Moreover, the visitors could also learn more about tugboat crew training with Multraship´ new portable tugboat simulator which was displayed during the trip across the port of Antwerp.