Mr. Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Transport, visited the IMO Secretary-General, Mr. Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, at IMO Headquarters in London on Friday 14 March 2007, within the framework of co-operation between the two sides aimed at promoting maritime safety and security and environmental protection.
The meeting was the fourth between the two following previous regular meetings successively held in London and Brussels since February 2005.
The topics discussed during the meeting included:
· Ship emissions;
· European Community observer status and participation in IMO;
· The Commission's Third Maritime Safety Package; and
· EU/IMO technical co-operation - in particular, the SAR programme in Africa
On the first item, Mr. Mitropoulos briefed Mr. Barrot on work progressing within the Organization:
(a) towards having amendments to the MARPOL Annex VI (Prevention of air pollution from ships) approved by the forthcoming session (31 March to 4 April) of the MEPC and then adopted at the Committee's session in October; and
(b) towards implementing the Action Plan on Greenhouse Gas Emissions, possibly bringing forward some deadlines to expedite the Organization's contribution to worldwide efforts in preparation for the Copenhagen Conference in December 2009.
Mr. Barrot, having appreciated the information provided, highlighted the EU efforts in actively supporting the IMO work on global rules for ship emissions. In addition, noting the complexity of the topic and the tight timetable presented by the Secretary General, he welcomed all efforts to deliver the expected results in time within the common efforts to combat climate change.
On the question of EU's participation at IMO, Mr. Barrot informed the Secretary-General of the contemplated request to change the observer status the European Commission enjoys at present to observer status for the European Community. Mr. Mitropoulos responded that the matter should be referred to the IMO Council for consideration and appropriate decision.
Mr. Barrot stated that the EU is progressing in its endeavours towards enhanced maritime safety as demonstrated by the third maritime package currently under negotiation, which builds, in particular, on IMO rules.
The discussion then turned to technical issues and Mr. Barrot received a report on recent developments concerning the introduction of the Long Range Identification and Tracking of ships (LRIT) system, currently under development by IMO.
Mr. Mitropoulos thanked Mr. Barrot for the Commission's support for technical co-operation projects under execution by IMO and for his contribution towards establishing, with EC financial assistance, a regional maritime rescue coordination centre (MRCC) in Morocco as part of IMO's efforts to cover the African coastline with an adequate SAR infrastructure.
The two sides expressed satisfaction with the positive and constructive outcome of their deliberations, which provided both with an opportunity to present their views and become aware of each other's position on the issues discussed. They agreed to keep an open dialogue to promote the many areas of common interest in a manner benefiting safety, security and environmental protection and international shipping as a whole.
Mr. Barrot was accompanied at the meeting by Mr. Fotis Karamitsos, Director, Directorate G - Logistics, Innovation, Co-modality and Maritime Transport; and Mr. Francis Morgan, Member of the Cabinet of Commissioner Barrot.
Attending on the IMO side were Mrs. Monica Mbanefo, Director, Technical Co-operation Division; Mr. Koji Sekimizu, Director, Maritime Safety Division; Mr. Miguel Palomares, Director, Marine Environment Division; and Mr. Agustin Blanco-Bazán, Senior Deputy Director, Sub-Division for Legal Affairs, Legal Affairs and External Relations Division.