EU politicians need to realise Greek shipping is a ‘European asset’

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European politicians and legislators both in the European Union and in Greece have to realise shipping is a pillar of the European economy and Greek shipping is a pillar of European shipping and is vital to the economic welfare of all of Europe.

“At the highest political level we must make Europeans understand Greek shipping is not only Greek but is a proven European asset and we will do all we can to make Europeans understand this,” the country’s Shipping & Island Policy Minister, Panagiotis Kouroumblis, has once again vowed,

Addressing a maritime conference in Athens last week Kouroumblis said trust in shipping is needed for it to face the challenges of our time. “Europeans must understand Greek shipping is a powerful weapon for Europe,” said the minister talking about Greek and European shipping and the industry’s competitiveness and prospects in these uncertain times.

Union of Greek Shipowners’ president, Theodore Veniamis, also underlined the importance of shipping to Europe. He mentioned the European generated issue over Greece’s approach to shipping tax stressing the need for shipping to remain competitive, saying the competition does not come from within Europe but from the shipping clusters rapidly being developed in the Far East.

He noted EU Transport commissioner Violeta Bulc understands this, noting the European shipowners body ECSA will be in Brussels the first week of March under the umbrella of the ‘European Shipping Week’ as part of the effort to make the law makers and wider public more aware of the EU shipping clusters and the social and economic advantages they give.

Veniamis described shipping as “a national treasure” for Greece, without having political party affiliations, and this enables the shipping community and the state to share a common aim, especially when it comes to increasing the direct links with the country’s economy and overall welfare.

Addressing the conference, Bimco chairman, Philippe Louis-Dreyfus, expressed admiration for the ability of Greek shipowners and said he was jealous that Greece has a special Ministry for Shipping.

He called on the EU and IMO “”to work together to ensure the European owner does not leave EU, which would be disastrous for Europe”. He said: “If Europe does not want to lose ground in international competitiveness, it should support sectors such as shipping which has a leading role on the world’s economic stage.”

However, he warned shipping must take proactive action over the environment otherwise EU bodies and politicians will. He also predicted financing will become scarcer and more expensive.

Greek shipowner Panos Laskaridis also spoke of the growth of clusters in the Far East and said European shipping should strive for more unity. “If the EU does not give motives to shipping, I’m afraid European shipping will be lost to outside centres just as the shipbuilding industry was.”

However, he feared the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and IMO are expressing view  “not liked by the EU”.

On the homefront, he said Greek shipping is disciplined and the 250,000 people working in it can give a lead to the rest of the country.

Posted 25 January 2017

© Copyright 2017 Seatrade (UBM (UK) Ltd). Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Seatrade.

David Glass

Greece Correspondent, Seatrade Maritime


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