The Union of Greek Shipowners (EEE) says the attitude of the government regarding the role of shipping in the national economy is undergoing a positive change, noting that «a policy of improving the competitiveness of Greek-flagged shipping will attract many of the 2,500 vessels to the national register.» Presenting its 2003-2004 annual report yesterday, EEE president Nikos Efthymiou said competitiveness is a variable rather than stable economic concept, depending on economic and international conditions prevailing at any given time. Efthymiou noted that shipping’s contribution to the national economy in the form of currency inflows in 2004 is expected to amount to 12 billion euros. Shipowners would also like to see the government offer them steady support before international shipping fora. Greek-owned shipping today represents 18.3 percent of world capacity in terms of deadweight tonnage (dwt). Some 270 vessels are currently under construction and on order from Greek shipowners, totaling a capacity of 24.7 million dwt. Of these, 170 are tankers and 65 cargo vessels, and the total investment is on the order of $7 billion. According to Efthymiou, the vast majority of Greek-owned ships will have complied with the requirements of the new International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code by the July 1 deadline. «A systematic and well-organized job has been done,» he said. However, he expressed concern about the readiness of most ports, mainly abroad, to apply the new regulations. «Problems and delays will arise in shipping activities when a ship sails from a non-certified port to a certified one and must undergo inspections, which will require staying at the port longer,» he said. Efthymiou also said EEE was strongly opposed to the efforts of some European Union member states to increase the severity of penal sanctions in cases of pollution accidents in maritime transport, saying that this will minimize the potential for attracting young people to the seaman’s profession. «Statistically, it has been proved that the most serious cases of pollution are caused either by the activities of onshore-based enterprises or by those of small vessels of personal use,» he said.