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EU commissioner Bulc reported to agree on need for global regulation of shipping

A series of meetings in recent days between European Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc, and leaders of the Greek shipping community appear to have got Commissioner Bulc on side when it comes to regulating the maritime industry.

Though no official announcements have been made about the meetings in Brussels and Piraeus it is understood Bulc agrees there is a need for global solutions and not regional ones when it comes to serious shipping issues.

This emerged after an April 4 meeting in Brussels between Commissioner Bulc and European Community Shipowners' Associations (ECSA) president, Panos Laskaridis, and was re-enforced a week later when Bulc was in Piraeus for separate talks with Greek Shipping and Island Policy minister, Fotis Kouvelis and Union of Greek Shipowners president, Theodore Veniamis.

According to reports, during her meeting with Laskaridis, Bulc spoke of the strategic worth of the European fleet. She reiterated her solid belief of the strategic importance of the EU fleet and said she would like to capitalise on her meeting by starting a dialogue with ECSA on the development of future policy.

She reportedly referred to a report being prepared on EU flag states and what should be done to ensure European flags become more competitive and suggested it's possible the new European Commission would review the issue of State Aid Guidelines (SAG).

Bulc agreed with Laskaridis of the importance of international regulations for shipping, and that shipping regulations and decisions should be made at the IMO level.

Laskaridis underlined SAG should not be changed and reasoned for the need to restructure the EC and its shipping services towards the centralisation of authorities under one roof.

A week after her meeting with Laskaridis, Bulc was in Greece. April 12, the need to support European shipping in the context of international competitiveness and enhancing its environmental sustainability topped the agenda when Bulc visited the Piraeus-based Shipping Ministry, to meet with Minister Fotis Kouvelis. Bulc was in Greece as IMO's MEPC prepared to further discuss the reduction of GHG emissions at its 74th session, May 13 - 17.

Kouvelis reportedly stressed that Greece sees European shipping as a key driver of economic growth in Europe, has a social role and contributes to quality employment through upgraded levels of maritime labour and education and its promotion as the most environmentally friendly means of conducting EU and global trade.

The meeting also highlighted the need to align with the established principles of trade liberalisation in the EU's bilateral agreements. Initiatives aimed at the use of advanced technologies for the facilitation and efficiency of maritime traffic, such as the single maritime window, and issues related to the preservation of European maritime know-how, as factors for strengthening European shipping were also discussed. Reference was made to ongoing developments in connection with Brexit.

Kouvelis underlined Greece's priority for the implementation of international standards through Imo and the country's practical support of IMO in all matters, including environmental issues. Kouvelis spoke of the need for the adequate number of properly certified officers to man the EU fleet.

The following day, Bulc met with UGS president, Theodore Veniamis. Again there was no official announcement about the meeting, but Veniamis described it as "very constructive" while Bulc said on her twitter account: "Always dynamic and engaging discussions with the Union of #Greek #ship owners on how to decarbonise and modernise maritime #shipping".

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