Mediterranean maritime cooperation: joining forces to promote maritime growth
European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki stated: "This is the beginning of a promising journey and I am delighted to launch today the first step of cooperation with the EIB and the IMO in the field of maritime affairs in the Mediterranean. The European Union and the international community must work together towards building a better future for the peoples of the Mediterranean through maritime growth that would generate sustainable jobs and prosperity."
"It is a very exciting project which will complement and supplement existing work being done in the region, including that coordinated by the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC), which is administered and technically back stopped by IMO. It is very important to address maritime surveillance activities and to look ahead to implementation of new products aimed at improving maritime safety - and, by extension, environmental protection - such as the application of the "e-navigation" strategy being developed by IMO," said IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos.
Vice-President of the European Investment Bank Philippe de Fontaine-Vive declared that "In these times of change for the Mediterranean region, nothing is more important than the ability to create jobs and growth and this can be achieved in part by leveraging the area's maritime potential. Yet the region is confronted with different institutional and legal frameworks to finance transport infrastructure, from full government dependence or total dependence on international financial assistance, to private participation, which is still limited. Given the immense needs in the region, we have a duty to improve this situation".
The optimal combination of European Commission action, European Investment Bank long-term financing and International Maritime Organization involvement as well as the participation of the private sector could lead to promising developments in the Mediterranean.
At the initiative of Commissioner Damanaki the three organisations decided therefore to step up their cooperation and pool their expertise in a common initiative aimed at improving the integration of maritime policies and the dissemination of investment best practices in the Mediterranean.
The first step of this innovative project is the launch of a feasibility study under the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP). As the first of its kind, the study will address key issues for promoting the maritime sector in the Mediterranean by identifying and disseminating best practices in three major areas of key relevance: social aspects, maritime surveillance and safety, and investment in maritime infrastructure.
The maritime sectors in the Mediterranean may stay sustainable only if there are enough adequately trained and skilled workers. "Blue growth" and "blue jobs" in the Mediterranean thus depend on progress on two main fronts: first, careers in seafaring and fishing need to remain attractive. This can be ensured through, for instance, fair working conditions. Secondly, standards for qualifications and training need to meet international and European requirements. Against the backdrop of existing projects and initiatives, this study will highlight past achievements and best practice, and assess the potential of innovative solutions in terms of how best to promote maritime employment in the Mediterranean.
The Mediterranean is an important transit corridor for shipping, with 30% of the world's seaborne trade channelled through it, including 20% of the world's seaborne oil traffic. Popular destination ports for cruise tourism are, in addition, a key feature of the Mediterranean. This intense shipping activity heightens the risk of accidental pollution and, possibly, illicit discharges, so there is a high need for integrated surveillance of maritime activities and operations as well as a regional focus on implementation of all international regulations dealing with the safety and security of shipping and the protection of the marine environment from ship-sourced pollution. At the present time, illegal immigration and drug trafficking are causes for concern. The project intends to provide elements that will facilitate the development of integrated maritime surveillance in the Mediterranean.
The EIB has extensive experience in funding port infrastructure and will thus provide critical expertise for the study on how to improve financing options and attract private sector finance in the transport sector. The work prepared under Safemed 1 and the MEDA project for the funding of port reception facilities will also be used as a basis for analysis. For the Bank, this programme will help devise a common way forward for the cooperation of the three institutions regarding new solutions and better use of the financial mechanisms available.