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European Maritime Day 2011: Putting People First


Every year on May 20, European Maritime Day is celebrated across the European Union to showcase the importance of the sea and oceans for our everyday life. This year, Gdansk (Poland) hosted the 4th edition of the European Maritime Day Conference on 19-20 May. Maritime Day has become the main European event where stakeholders from a large range of maritime sectors meet and discuss the opportunities and challenges currently facing maritime regions and sectors across Europe: from tourism and fisheries to maritime transport and climate change. European Commissioners Maria Damanaki, Siim Kallas and Janusz Lewandowski joined Polish and European ministers and personalities at the Conference. As Commissioner Kallas pointed out in his opening speech, "Maritime transport will remain an essential component of the European economy. Shipping carries 90% of European external trade and 40% of EU internal trade. European companies and residents today control about 40% of the world’s shipping fleet; 25% of the world fleet flies a European flag. Two million Europeans are working in the maritime cluster. Shipping is a global business and Europe is in direct competition with other established and emerging powers in the world. To support the competitiveness of EU shipping, we insist on quality, sustainability and innovation. And in order to defend a fair and high-quality global level playing field, the EU is already in close cooperation with international partners and should further increase its contribution at international level." The title of this year’s European Maritime Day was "Putting People First" – because the conference was centred on the many benefits that an integrated approach to Maritime Policy brings to European citizens. The Conference took stock of the different initiatives which are already underway. The Conference also reviewed the Baltic Sea Strategy with all key stakeholders. This Strategy is a genuine success story in the regional approach: by interconnecting the players of a dozen countries and countless sectors, it has imparted unprecedented dynamism to the region and given rise to some 80 projects, ranging from transport to education. Stakeholders had the possibility to exchange views, among other issues, on the Commission’s e-Maritime initiative (Directorate-General for Transport) to enhance berth-to-berth navigation and services in Europe. The Baltic Sea stakeholders will discuss means to improve the Baltic’s marine environment by reducing the eutrophication due to ship waste, identifying vulnerable habitats and providing examples of good governance in the basin. The conference was organised by the European Commission in partnership with the Ministry of Infrastructure of the Government of Poland, the Pomerania Region and the City of Gdansk. The European Maritime Day, officially proclaimed in a tripartite declaration by the Presidents of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU on 20 May 2008, aims to raise the visibility of Maritime Europe. The previous editions of European Maritime Day were held in Brussels (2008), Rome (2009) and Gijon (2010) respectively. European Maritime Day was created as part of the 2007 EU Integrated Maritime Policy, which aims to highlight the interconnections between the various policies affecting the seas and oceans and promotes the sustainable growth of maritime sectors and regions.