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Wednesday, September 19, 2018


A provocative and adversarial speech made this week in London by the European Commission’s Director of Maritime Transport Fotis Karamitsos took the shipping industry by surprise, as he criticised it for failing on quality and promised substantially more European intervention in future.

On the subject of ‘teeth’ for shipping regulations, he talked of Europe contributing to the development of new improved standards for shipping but also supporting the creation of mechanisms for the control of their implementation.

He spoke of strengthening the role of the IMO, but “within an environment that respects the rights of coastal and flag states.” Could this mean more EU demands for opt-out options for EU countries?

He even went as far as implying EU interference with the free market, commenting that “the tendency for continuous optimisation and reduction of costs through uncontrolled competition cannot continue: we must create conditions to avoid undercut prices.”

He believes that “the politicians have overtaken administrators, technicians and economists responding to the overwhelming public reaction” subsequent to the Erika and the Prestige, and reiterated EU determination to become a member of IMO.

But it was his comments about quality that have surprised and concerned the shipping industry. European policies will include “taking initiatives to develop a genuine safety culture in the (shipping) industry,” he said. “We need better procedures for control (particularly of conditions of ships), better designs of ships and verification of their structures.” He concluded that there is a “need to change the culture of the (shipping) industry and support a quality approach.”

There may be political reasons for making such statements, but they undermine years of efforts by the industry to keep quality at the forefront of its operations and unjustifiably tarnish the image of shipping. INTERTANKO is making a formal response to Karamitsos’ comments.