Interferry Plans to Open New Brussels Office

Monday, August 08, 2011

Interferry is opening a Brussels office with a full-time specialist for European Union and IMO activities in a bid to strengthen the ferry industry’s voice on maritime policy and regulations.

Start-up funding for the initiative has been guaranteed by five major European members of the worldwide trade association – Brittany Ferries, DFDS, Grimaldi Group, P&O Ferries and Stena Line.

Johan Roos, director of sustainability at Sweden’s Stena group since 2006, will join Interferry as executive director of EU and IMO affairs in September, working from an office within the Brussels HQ of the European Community Shipowners’ Association (ECSA).

Interferry’s Canada-based CEO Len Roueche says: “This is a landmark in our 36-year history and takes us to a new level in raising our influence on the industry’s global governance.  We need real input on safety and environmental issues to avoid having potentially ruinous decisions dumped on us. 

“We have had some lobbying successes – such as changes to the High Speed Craft Code - through our IMO consultative status and as members of BIMCO and the International Chamber of Shipping.  However, it’s been clear for some time that we required dedicated cover of the EU and the IMO in London for maximum impact.  This initiative offers a powerful solution by providing launch finance and helping to attract new members who can swell the future fighting fund.”

Discussions on the initiative started in April and have resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding between Interferry and a steering group formed by the five ferry companies.  The companies aim to recruit other large operators to the funding group and will present an initial budget by the end of November.  Meanwhile, Interferry is to develop a long-term plan for funding from across the membership, which currently stands at 220 operators and suppliers in 34 countries.

Under the agreement, positions on EU issues will be established by a newly-formed European committee including operators, Interferry and ECSA representatives and industry observers.  Interferry’s existing regulatory committee will continue to draft positions on IMO issues.  The executive director will report to CEO Roueche and act as secretariat to both committees.

Roos, who will now step down as chairman of the regulatory committee, has a master’s degree in environmental sciences and worked for DNV before joining Stena Line in 2000 to develop environmental management systems.  For the past three years he has been a regular member of the Interferry delegation at IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee sessions. 

In his new post, priority IMO issues include coordinating further input on the Energy Efficiency Design Index.  Working with other delegations, Interferry has argued that current proposals penalise ferry operations.  This had led to passenger and ro-ro vessels being excluded from the first phase of implementation, but alternative methods have to be submitted within two years.  His agenda will also include Market Based Measures, involving a complex choice of bunker levy, emissions trading and other schemes. 

On EU issues, Roos will monitor the possibility of Europe imposing regional environmental controls if it considers IMO measures are too weak.  He will also be briefed to look out for changes in competition, tax, employment and tendering rules that could affect the ferry sector.

Within weeks of taking office, he will outline the political landscape – and his role in raising industry participation - at Interferry’s 36th annual conference in Barcelona from October 3-6.  The programme focuses on operational and regulatory challenges, with more than 40 speakers and panellists discussing issues such as alternative fuels, emissions control, training, safety, ship management, maintenance and insurance.

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