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Brussels, 21 January 2009

The Commission presents the strategic goals for European maritime transport policy up to 2018

The European Commission presented today a comprehensive ten year strategy plan to promote safe, secure, clean and efficient shipping. The long-term competitiveness of European shipping and related maritime industries in world markets, and the adaptation of the entire seaborne transport system to the challenges of the 21st century are at the heart of this strategy plan.

"The financial crisis and its impact on the maritime transport sector demands decisive action" said Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani responsible for transport "We need to look ahead and provide answers to the many challenges we face today, from keeping EU seamanship capacities, combating piracy and reducing the environmental impact of shipping", he added.

The proposed strategic options are built on a all-inclusive approach, which are at the basis of the new European Integrated Maritime Policy, and reflect the core principles of sustainable development, economic growth and open markets in fair competition and high environmental and social standards.

In this respect, Commissioner Joe Borg, responsible for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, declared: "I welcome this maritime transport strategy as a cornerstone of the Action Plan of the Integrated Maritime Policy which aims at strengthening competitiveness, sustainable growth and employment in the European maritime industries as a whole".

Over recent years, ever more globalised trade connections and the developments in terms of world trade, energy markets, climate change concerns or security threats have stressed the importance of seaborne transport for the prosperity of Europe and its citizens. With over 80% of world trade being carried by sea, maritime transport remains the backbone of international trade. For the EU, the world’s most important exporter and the second biggest importer, shipping and related services are essential in helping European companies to compete globally.

The European shipping industry is also one of Europe’s largest export industries. It provides transport services between Europe and the rest of the world and between third countries in all regions of the globe. In Europe, short-sea shipping is an essential part of the transport chain, carrying 40% of intra-European freight in ton-kilometres. With more than 400 million passengers passing through European ports each year, maritime transport has also a direct impact on the quality of life of European citizens (both as tourists and as inhabitants of islands and peripheral regions).

Looking forward

Over the next ten years a substantial increase of both international and intra-EU seaborne trade is expected. This implies a considerable growth in shipping operations in all the maritime façades of the Union and significant challenges to the sustainable development of the overall transport chain.

  • A strategic vision looking at the development of shipping, ports and related sectors for the short, medium and long terms is essential for streamlining the EU maritime transport policy so that it can best benefit from future opportunities and face the future challenges.

The full text of the Policy Strategy will be made available as soon as possible via:

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