Shipowners get new EU rules

Greek shipowners have convinced EU authorities to adopt a set of more rational measures about the criminal liability of shipowners and crews in case of accidents. The Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS), which recently visited Brussels, said EU officials confirmed there will not be a repeat of cases such as that of Apostolos Mangouras, the captain of the Prestige tanker who was held in detention for a long time without trial. Brussels officials and the UGS delegation worked through several new measures. The most significant of these was the revised «Lisbon Agenda,» in which EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso committed himself to making Europe «one of the most attractive destinations for investment and work.» Shipowners say that «in order for the competitiveness pillar to be strengthened, the development of business culture is required not just by company officials but also by lawmakers.» The «new type of governance» offered by European Maritime Affairs Commissioner Joe Borg must view European shipping optimistically and improve its image so that it proportionately reflects progress and development in Europe. If the EU wants to become a more competitive market in the world, Greek shipowners said «it must fight the war against hostile behavior developing in the European area through mass media representations of maritime environment pollution incidents» and the consequent prejudice governments show through lawmaking. «The joint response by a rare and solid coalition of maritime and shipping organizations and corporations is indicative of the great displeasure covering all shipping activities in Europe about the criminalization of accidental sea pollution,» the same UGS sources claimed. «Yet this displeasure has been completely ignored by the EU’s competent authorities.» Greek shipowners say if Europe were to lose its investors and seafarers, it would eventually lose all of its shipping activities. If community fleets abandon their EU-member flags, then shipping know-how would disappear and a great number of jobs would be lost. «Domestic shipowners, as well as Barroso, believe that the EU’s future is indispensably linked with an imposing presence at sea,» UGS sources said.

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