Announced at an informal meeting of European Community Transport Ministers, the Athens Declaration is a review of the EU Maritime Transport Policy to 2018.
In it European ministers set out EU shipping policy priorities, recognising the crucial role of maritime transport within the EU as well as its commercial significance as an industry.
A competitive and sustainable shipping industry is repeatedly referred to in the document, as well as the importance of education and training within the sector and free access to markets. Strengthening short sea shipping is also highlighted as a priority to enable cargoes to move away from more polluting land and air-based transport methods.
"The application of single market principles to maritime transport, the introduction of an electronic customs environment, removal of administrative bottlenecks and a reduction in unnecessary, redundant and time-consuming reporting procedures are, amongst other matters, issues for European ship agents that have all been under discussion for extended periods without substantive progress having been made," the organisation stated in a release.
"With the clearly stated support of member states however, ECASBA hopes that momentum will once again build and real advances can be made. The declaration also called for action on the long-awaited State Aid Guidelines, policies to enhance the competitiveness of European ports and the introduction of effective measures to enhance the safety and environmental performance of ships, especially in the short sea trades"