European Council News

26 Nov 2018

Russia Ignores Western Calls to Free Captured Ukrainian Ships

© andriano_cz/Adobe Stock

Russia on Monday ignored Western calls to release three Ukrainian naval ships it fired on and captured near Crimea at the weekend and accused Kiev of plotting with its Western allies to provoke a conflict.Kiev in turn accused Russia of military aggression and put its armed forces on full combat alert, saying it reserved the right to defend itself. Ukrainian lawmakers were due to decide whether to introduce martial law for two months later on Monday, a move President Petro Poroshenko…

12 Sep 2018

New Strategies to Guard Against Future Security Threats

©Hamburg Messe und Congress, Rolf Otzipka

The international conference on maritime security and defense (MS&D), held for the seventh time in Hamburg during the SMM maritime trade fair, focused on current and future challenges to maritime security and defense. Twenty naval, industrial and science experts discussed topics such as how to protect international ocean trading routes, when and how to deploy naval forces on crisis missions, as well as cyber security issues.The welcome address opened the event with somber words as Rear Admiral Thorsten Kähler…

30 May 2018

EU Brexit Working Party Visits Antwerp Port

Photo: Port of Antwerp

The EU working party responsible for advising the EU Brexit negotiators paid a visit to the port of Antwerp on Monday 28 May. The working party is made up of representatives of the 27 EU countries, the European Commission and the European Council. During their visit to the Border Inspection Post and the Antwerp Gateway Terminal the European diplomats learned about the various procedures involved in importing and exporting goods in and out of the European Union. The aim of the visit was to find out the practical implications of the various Brexit scenarios.

23 Mar 2018

Trump Tariffs: EU Seeks Permanent Exemption

© Leonid Eremeychuk / Adobe Stock

European Union leaders called on Friday for a temporary exemption from U.S. import duties on steel and aluminium to be made permanent, saying they reserved the right to respond in an "in a proportionate manner" to protect the bloc's interests. The 40-day exemption granted by Washington was like U.S. President Donald Trump "putting a gun to our head", Belgium's prime minister complained. The EU's trade negotiator demanded that the United States drop "artificial deadlines". Trump said on Thursday he would suspend tariffs for the EU…

14 Dec 2017

ECSA, UK Chamber Urge Speedy Brexit Trade Negotiations

Image: UK Chamber of Shipping

The European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA), of which the UK Chamber is a member, have sent a letter to the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier, urging the EU for “rapid and positive” progress in trade talks with the UK. The European Council is currently engaged in a key vote on whether the next stage of negotiations will commence. ECSA represents shipowners from both sides of the Channel – organisations that facilitate a sizeable chunk of the €639 billion of trade that flows between the UK and EU annually.

07 Dec 2017

European Council Agrees to Implement ECSA-ETF Agreement

Photo: European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA)

European shipowners and European transport workers speak together to warmly welcome today’s adoption of a Council Directive improving seafarers’ working conditions. This change will implement an agreement between the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) and the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), which will bring European rules up-to-date with international best practice. The new rules oblige shipowners to provide financial security protecting seafarers against the consequences of abandonment in an overseas port.

07 Jun 2017

Baltic Sea Region Hails Green Cooperation

Photo: Danish Maritime Authority

Politicians, industry stakeholders and maritime Flagship Projects agree that there is a need to focus on cross-sectorial cooperation, education and training as well as enforcement of regulations in order to turn the region into a leading clean and safe. Representatives from the European Commission, the European Parliament, the maritime industry and maritime Flagship Projects under the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) on may 30th 2017 convened in Brussels to discuss the potentials and future priorities for maritime safety and security and clean shipping in the Baltic Sea Region.

24 Apr 2017

Economic Indicators Pointing Up -BIMCO

© Dmitry V. Petrenko / Adobe Stock photo

The recent months’ uptick in global indicators, which implies a strengthening in the global economy, is not sufficient for the patient to be discharged yet. The state of the global economy is still uncertain, despite stronger growth dynamics in advanced economies, and not least in China. When the IMF updated its outlook for advanced economies for 2017 and 2018 in January, it was the first time since 2007 that an IMF January update lifted expectations for the present and coming years.

24 Jan 2017

MASS continues to support Maritime Anti-piracy Operations

Boarding team from EU Naval Force combat support warship FGS BERLIN stops a suspicious skiff. Photo courtesy Operation Atalanta

The European Council has extended the mandate for European Union Naval Force Somalia (EU NAVFOR) - Operation ATALANTA - until 31 December 2018, which means Cohort company MASS will continue to provide the Classified Mission Network for the enduring Operation. Operation ATALANTA was launched in December 2008 to contribute to the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast. The operation also protects vessels of the World Food Programme and other vulnerable shipping…

09 Jan 2017

IMO Secretary-General Speaks Out Against Regional Emission Trading System

Photo: International Maritime Organization (IMO)

International Maritime Organization (IMO)  Secretary-General Kitack Lim has written to senior European officials expressing his concern that including shipping in the European Union’s Emission Trading System (EU-ETS) could undermine efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from shipping on a global basis. In a letter to Martin Schulz (President of the European Parliament), Jean-Claude Juncker (President of the European Commission) and Donald Tusk (President of the European Council)…

30 Nov 2016

Operation Atalanta Continues to Keep the Coast of Somalia Safe

Photo: The European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA)

The European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) welcomes the European Council’s decision of 25 November to extend the mandate of Atalanta, the European Union’s counter-piracy operation along the East African coast. “The two-year mandate extension comes at the right moment”, said ECSA Secretary General Patrick Verhoeven, “Pirate attacks on merchant ships have been significantly reduced over the years compared to when the operation started in 2008, but a recent armed attack on a chemical tanker shows that piracy is unfortunately still alive along the coast of Somalia,” he added.

29 Nov 2016

EU Counter Piracy Mission Extended

Photo: EU NAVFOR

The European Council has extended Operation Atalanta’s mandate to deter, disrupt and repress acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia through December 31, 2018. Operation Atalanta’s two-year mandate extension, enacted on November 25, 2016, comes amidst concerns within European Union Member States that whilst pirate attacks on merchant ships transiting the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean are currently suppressed, pirates still have the intent and capability to go out to sea and mount an attack.

18 Oct 2016

European Shipping Week Receives EU Patronage

President, Mr Martin Schultz. Photo ESW

European Shipping Week has been granted the European Parliament’s official patronage by its President, Mr Martin Schultz. Commenting on European Shipping Week, Mr Schultz said his institution appreciated the opportunity for open dialogue between policy makers and representatives of the shipping industry to debate the future of European shipping policy. In a letter to Niels Smedegaard, President of the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA), Mr Schulz said: “As you are aware…

14 Jul 2016

EU's Silence on South China Sea Ruling Highlights Inner Discord

European governments are torn over how to respond to China's defeat in a legal battle over the South China Sea, fearful of alienating their second-largest trading partner and hampered by a maritime dispute among their own members. China angrily vowed to ignore the ruling by a court in The Hague dismissing its claim to much of the South China Sea. Its envoy to Washington said the verdict would "intensify conflict and even confrontation", though he also said Beijing remained committed to negotiations in disputes over the vital trade route. Despite U.S. pressure on the European Union to take a stand on the issue, the bloc has so far been unable to agree a common statement, leaving diplomats to argue over the wording acceptable to all 28 member states.

22 Apr 2016

Merkel Visit aims to Soothe EU Migrant Tensions

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will use a visit to Turkey this weekend to try to soothe tensions over a deal meant to stem the flow of migrants to Europe as questions about its effectiveness and long-term viability mount. The pact, which came into force almost three weeks ago, aims to help end the chaotic arrival of migrants and refugees on the Greek islands, many fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa. More than one million reached Europe last year. The deal initially slowed the numbers of new arrivals to Greece sharply, but boats have been coming again with about 150 people a day, indicating the "hermetic sealing" of the route appears to be over, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.

14 Mar 2016

Migrant Crisis Pushes Climate Change off EU Summit Agenda

Europe's migrant crisis has kicked climate change off the agenda of EU leaders' talks this week, officials said, prompting accusations from green campaigners that the European Union has given up its leadership on environmental issues. Summit talks on Thursday and Friday had been expected to discuss December's Paris Agreement on climate change, which the European Commission hailed as an historic breakthrough. But it has since said it will not review until the next decade its target for cutting greenhouse gases, even though some EU nations and environmental campaigners say the Paris deal cleared the way for more radical action sooner. Another official said European Council President Donald Tusk, who will chair the summit talks, "did not want to have a (climate) discussion".

16 Feb 2016

Malta Rolls out First Ever Maritime Summit

Image: Government of Malta

The first Malta Maritime Summit, an opportunity for international and Maltese stakeholders to raise and discuss common interests, will be held on 3-6 October, ahead of the start of Malta’s presidency of the European Council in January 2017. The international event that will consolidate the present Government's will to establish the country as a centre of maritime excellence, says Joe Mizzi, the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure. Malta has always been a maritime nation as its location has made it historically the most sought after island in the Mediterranean…

23 Sep 2015

ECSA, ICS and BIMCO urge EU to ratify the 2010 protocol

The chemical tanker IevoliSun, with styrene and other hazardous and noxious substances on board, sinks off the coast of France in 2000. Photo by HNS Convention

In a joint position paper submitted by ECSA, ICS and BIMCO to EU member States’ maritime attachés, member States have been urged to ratify or accede to the Protocol of 2010 to the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea, 1996 (the 2010 Protocol). In its paper, ECSA, ICS and BIMCO highlight a number of reasons for their call to member States, including that a speedy ratification of the 2010 Protocol will establish an international regime for HNS damage…

18 May 2015

EU Approves CO2 MRV Regulation

The European Council approved a new shipping regulation on the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of CO2 emissions on April 28, 2015, as part of its overall strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The regulation, slated to enter into force on July 1, 2015 with the first reporting cycle will commence in 2018, applies to all vessels over 5,000gt trading in EU ports, excluding fishing vessels, warships, naval auxiliaries, wooden ships of primitive build, ships not propelled by mechanical means and government ships used for noncommercial purposes. From August 31, 2017, all vessels over 5,000gt trading to, from and…

21 Apr 2015

UN Urges Europe to Put Asylum at Center of Migrant Debate

The U.N. refugee agency on Tuesday urged European leaders to put the protection of migrants at the center of debate over the crisis in the Mediterranean and to do more to help Greece and Italy cope. After as many as 900 people drowned in a ship off the coast of Libya this weekend, EU ministers on Monday called an extraordinary summit for Thursday and made an action plan. More than 36,000 have tried to cross the Mediterranean this year, the UNHCR says, mostly from Libya, and nearly 1,800 are feared to have died in the attempt. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) welcomed the plan as a good start but noted its emphasis on law enforcement.

20 Apr 2015

Shipwrecked Bodies Brought Ashore, EU Proposes Doubling Rescue Effort

The European Union proposed doubling the size of its Mediterranean search and rescue operations on Monday, as the first bodies were brought ashore of some 900 people feared killed in the deadliest shipwreck while trying to reach Europe. Three other rescue operations were underway on Monday to save hundreds more migrants in peril on overloaded vessels making the journey from the north coast of Africa to Europe. The mass deaths have caused shock in Europe, where a decision to scale back naval operations last year seems to have increased the risks for migrants without reducing their numbers. "The situation in the Mediterranean is dramatic.

08 Apr 2015

Shippers Urge EU to Act in Mediterranean Migrant Crisis

European and global operators of merchant ships have joined forces with seafarers’ unions to urge EU Member States to take immediate collective action to address the growing humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean Sea. Since 2014, thousands of people have been attempting the dangerous sea crossing to Europe, from Africa and the Middle East, in overcrowded boats not fit for purpose, with more than 3,500 people having already lost their lives. Many are at the mercy of people smugglers.

07 Oct 2014

EU Sanctions on Iran Oil tanker Group Annulled

European Union sanctions on Iran's main oil tanker firm NITC have been annulled after the EU did not appeal against a court ruling that the measures should be lifted, the shipping group's lawyer said on Tuesday. In July the Luxembourg-based General Court, the second-highest court in the EU, ruled there were no grounds to blacklist NITC in the bloc after the company contested the designation. Rulings are typically suspended for two months pending appeals. "We are glad to see the (European) Council accept the judgment of the EU court that the sanctions were unlawful, although it is regrettable that they did not see fit to lift the sanctions sooner," said Rovine Chandrasekera of law firm Stephenson Harwood, which represented NITC.

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