The Maltese Presidency put once more the EU maritime transport sector in the spotlight with the organization of the shipping sector stakeholders conference and the Ministerial Conference on Maritime policy which approved the Valletta Declaration.

This document outlines a common vision on the goals and priorities for the EU maritime transport policy until 2020. The declaration addresses the three main areas in which policy action at the EU level will be necessary, these are the following:

Competitiveness. The Declaration underlines the need for stable, predictable and competitive framework conditions and international high standards, while highlighting the efforts to address skills gaps, labour shortages and achieve greater connectivity and intermodality within the sector.

Digitalisation as a way to reduce bureaucracy, increase efficiency and promote the development of new synergies between the maritime cluster and the IT sector.

Decarbonization, the Ministers affirmed the strong support for an ambitious IMO strategy on reduction of emissions. Thus, the document urges the EU to lead the process at the international level and to step up its cooperation with the IMO, third countries and the industry to develop a long term strategy. Moreover, the Declaration demands from the Commission the implementation of initiatives to help the maritime transport industry to curb its emissions and become more environmentally sustainable.

ETA welcomes the Declaration and supports the EU Transport Ministers stance on the need to address the current challenges affecting the whole maritime cluster, whose competitiveness at the world stage is essential for the European economy. You can find here the ETA press release on the Declaration.

Concerning the Stakeholders Conference, it represented a great opportunity for the sector to dialogue with the EU decision makers and Member States representatives. Among other participants, Kitack Lim, Secretary General of the IMO, Joe Mizzi, Maltese Minister of Transport or Violeta Bulc, Commissioner for Transport attended the event. Concerning the Commissioner, she debated with representatives of the industry about the future of the EU maritime policy and welcomed more cooperation between the Commission and the maritime cluster. Among other issues, the Commissioner defended the EU latest initiatives to lead the international process to reach a global emissions reduction agreement. Moreover, Commissioner Bulc advocated for establishing the highest standards concerning market access and competition at the EU and the international level.

Anna Maria Darmanin, who participated in the same panel, described the main issues affecting the EU tugowners as global competition or skills shortages. Furthermore, Ms. Darmanin underlined how the towage sector is a EU based industry, where most of it technical development takes place.

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