The Council of Ministers of Transport adopted on 5 June its conclusions on "EU Waterborne Transport Sector – Future outlook: Towards a carbon-neutral, zero accidents, automated and competitive EU Waterborne Transport Sector". This decision endorses the Opatija Declaration adopted at political level on 11 March 2020.
"The European shipping industry was very much part of the discussions that shaped the Opatija Declaration," said Martin Dorsman, ECSA Secretary-General. "The vision set out in the declaration fully reflects the ambitions of our sector and sets the direction in which we have been moving rapidly towards."
However, the progress towards that vision has come to a halt since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected the whole maritime industry in Europe and the rest of the world. Despite the various difficulties the crisis has created, such as the lack of crew changes and liquidity issues, companies and employees continue to work to ensure the supply chains stay running.
"We fully appreciate that the Ministers recognise the pivotal role of European shipping during this crisis in keeping trade and the flow of basic services and supplies running as smoothly as possible. It is important that all policymakers understand this paramount role and the strategic interests of shipping for the EU, which this crisis has clearly put under the spotlight, and which should never be compromised," continued Mr Dorsman.
The Council conclusions also highlighted the essential work seafarers are performing in keeping the supply lines functioning including their right to fair treatment. ECSA, together with other European and international partners and institutions, is strongly urging governments to designate maritime workers as key workers so as to ensure crew changes are able to take place and seafarers’ rights are upheld. Crew relief is vital for the health, safety and welfare of maritime workers and the proper functioning of seaborne supply lines.