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International Cooperation and Coordination

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.

In addition bilateral Transport Security Working Groups are well established with the US Japan, Korea, China and Russia.. Talks with Caspian Sea countries and the Mediterranean basin countries just got initiated.

Transport Security Working Groups are aiming at:

  • enable common understanding of Security matters
  • exchange experiences and best practice in the field of security
  • make further progress towards international standardisation of security practices
  • establish mutual agreements of security practices allowing reciprocal reviews and leading if possible to savings in the security treatment of cargo and passengers coming from countries with mutually recognised Security measures.