The European Tugowners Association (ETA) was formally established in London on 1st July 1963. It is one of Europe’s older maritime organisations. Its founding father and first chairman was Sir William Crosthwaite, President of the British Tuwowners Association. The ten founders were prominent representatives from companies from six European countries.

Since its foundation the association grew steadily and it is now widely recognised as the sole representative European association of tugowners and operators.

Through the works of the Sub-Committees of its Executive Committee, the ETA was actively involved together with BIMCO in the drafting of the Standard International Ocean Towage Agreement (“TOWHIRE” for Daily Hire and “TOWCON” mostly for towing vessels from one place to another at sea).

The works of the association throughout its history range from follow up on international regulatory initiatives (IMO and others) with respect to salvage and insurance law to various international conventions and technical developments affecting the towage sector.

Domiciled originally in London for almost 40 years, from the late 80’s the ETA members became increasingly aware of the EU’s growing potential influence through legislative initiatives affecting ports and port services. This led to the decision to take a more proactive stance as a European lobby group able to react quickly to concerns of common interest amongst members and to closer monitoring of the European Institutions’ activities.

For that purpose the Secretariat was transferred to Brussels in 2002.

On November 25th 2014 the Association’s members founded a Vereniging zonder Winstgevend Oogmerk/Association sans But Lucratif (VZW/ASBL), thus obtaining legal personality under Belgian Law. The newly adopted articles of association transformed the Executive Committee into a Supervisory Committee and installed a Board of Directors.

Today the ETA represents an essential and integral part of safe and efficient operation of European shipping and port services. Services provided permit the conduct of European trade by ensuring the smooth and safe movement of goods through its ports.

An extensive illustration of the Associations’s history can be found in Professor Eric Van Hooydonk’s book “Fifty years of the European Tugowners Association, From London club to Brussels lobby”, published in 2013. An order form can be found here.