Union of Greek Shipowners president, Theodoros Veniamis, renewed his call on the Greek government and the country’s seafarers to allow the maritime labour market to become internationally competitive by overcoming industrialist obstructions. Veniamis said the maritime institutional framework needs to be stable in order for the industry to prosper and contribute further to the ailing Greek economy.


Speaking at a shipping conference in Athens, March 30, Veniamis said administrative, bureaucratic and other hurdles must be overcome in order for Greek ship owning and management companies to grow, further boosting the Greek maritime cluster. Greece has continued to strengthen its position as the largest ship owning nation in recent years, controlling some 18% of the world fleet. Greek shipping contributes over 7% of the country’s GDP, provides employment to 200,000 people and covers over 30% of the trade deficit.

Veniamis said European shipping is not in danger from unfair competition practices among its members, but from competition from Far East countries and rapidly growing shipping clusters developed in the region.

Greek shipowners have publicly criticized a recently published decision by the European Commission alleging certain provisions of the Greek shipping taxation regime are in breach of EU state aid provisions. The EC has asked Greece to amend its maritime tonnage tax to exclude all maritime sector intermediaries and operators of ships, which do not provide maritime transport services.

As in the past, Veniamis repeated the UGS argument there is no distortion of competition in the maritime industry in the EU due to the current taxation scheme.

Shipping and Island Policy minister, Panagiotis Kouroumblis, told the conference the Tsipras administration will deal with bureaucratic issues to help the country’s shipowners bring their ships back under the Greek flag. “Europeans must understand Greek shipping is not only for Greece but is also a power for Europe,” said Kouroumblis, backing the UGS' view.

A couple of days earlier, Kouroumblis, speaking to Transport and Shipping ministers in Malta, said the EU should adapt its environmental policy in regard to shipping to the decisions and guidelines of IMO. He noted the recent decision of the European Parliament provides for the inclusion of shipping in emissions trading scheme (EU-ETS) in 2023, if by 2021 the Imo does not adopt a global regulatory framework that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships.

Filed: 2017-03-31