With over 80 % of world merchandise trade by volume being carried by sea, maritime transport remains the backbone supporting international trade and globalisation. For the EU, which continues to be the most important exporter at world level and the second importer, maritime transport and all related shipping services are essential in helping European companies compete globally.
The Commission maintains a continuous dialogue with all the EU shipping and trading partners in the world, i.e. the USA, China, India, Japan or Russia in view of reinforcing the stability of the world seaborne trade system. Bilateral agreements and dialogue are key instruments to solve problems, lift restrictions to international maritime transport and promote quality shipping values all over the world. The Commission fully support the efforts of the WTO to achieve a multilateral agreement at world wide level, to the benefit of all nations in the world.
The European Commission also takes part in regular talks of international organizations, especially relating to issues such as safety, the protection of the marine environment or labour standards. It coordinates with Member States the EU positions when negotiating forums such as the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) where it contributed to the adoption of the Convention on Maritime Labour Standards on 23 February 2006.