The members of the European Tugowners Association (ETA) assembled in Turku for its 58th Annual General Meeting. This year´s event was kindly hosted by ETA local member Alfons Hakans. In spite of the difficult conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, 85 participants among ETA full and associate members attended the Annual General Meeting in person, while other delegates preferred to follow the debates virtually.

The ETA Annual General Meeting voted on the change in the chairmanship of the Association, which happens every two years. After two difficult but productive years marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, Kimmo Lehto (Alfons Håkans AS) handed over the ETA baton to Vicente Boluda Ceballos (Boluda Corporacion Maritima SL), who will be the new Chairman for the next term. His previous position as Deputy Chairman has been filled by Alberto Dellepiane (Rimorchiatori Riuniti Porto di Genova).

Kimmo Lehto said, “it has been an honour to serve as the Chairman of the European Tugowners Association in very challenging times caused by Covid-19. However, with challenges also comes rewards which have taught the association and its members to meet and communicate online and to organize successful virtual conferences. The members of the ETA have shown that they are able to adapt the sudden changes in their towage operations and have showed that they are resilient and a reliable part of the logistic chain of the maritime industry. Our members have also successfully continued their work towards a greener, more sustainable future despite the current restrictions caused by Covid-19. Moreover, the Association continues to improve its dialogue with the policy makers and other associations of the shipping sector with the new ways of communication that have been adopted during the pandemic. It is with great pleasure I now hand the chairmanship of the ETA over to the very capable hands of Mr. Vicente Boluda who will guide us into our next normal”.

This year´s Annual Meeting Conference focused on the next normal, and how it is being shaped by unprecedented events (such as COVID19), legislation (the EU Green Deal), competition (within the maritime sector and the tug sector) and innovation.

The speakers, Tom Standage (The Economist Deputy Editor), Roberta Metsola (European Parliament Vice-President), Sandro Santamato (EC DG Move Head of Unit) and Karno Tenovuo (CEO at Awake.AI) analysed the upcoming challenges and disruptive changes that our societies and industry will face in the next years, focusing on the future of work, the adoption of IT based technologies and the EU shipping and climate policies for the period 2030-2050. The speakers were followed by a panel discussing the topic of the new normal that was composed of: Willem-Jan Hamers (Redwise Maritime Services), Alec Laing (ACL Shipbrokers), Mijndert Wiesenekker (Damen Shipyards), Marinus Jansen (CAT Marine) and Ben Harris (The Shipowners´ Club).

I would like to thank all members for their support and confidence. Our industry is going through hard and challenging times due to the pandemic, but the sector also needs to adapt to all the new international and European regulations that are being discussed and adopted at the moment. And we, as ETA, must have a strong voice in Brussels so the positions of our industry are taken into account by policy makers and stakeholders” said in his acceptance speech incoming Chairman Vicente Boluda Ceballos.

ETA Secretariat warmly thanks the host company, Alfons Håkans AS, for its tireless support, without which this 58th Annual Meeting would not be possible to take place. We also want to extend our warmest gratitude to the sponsors for their generous contribution. This Annual Meeting was a celebration of getting back together and finally meeting face to face. This was only possible with the support of the Board, the host company and the sponsors.

ETA, is the only association that represents the Tug sector at a European level, and is composed of 85 full members in 25 countries, who own or operate a combined fleet of over 900 tugs in European ports. Its membership ranges from major towage companies operating more than 100 tugs worldwide to family businesses and port authorities with very small-to-medium-size tug fleets.

ETA’s work during the next year will continue to follow the strategy set out by the association in 2020. This includes strengthening the knowledge base of the association, enhancing the awareness of the towage sector at a European and International level; and of augmenting the service it gives to its members.

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