Introducing the annual report 2021-2022 of the Union of Greek Shipowners, I would like to begin by thanking Mr. Theodore Veniamis, our President for the previous 13 years, for his pivotal contribution to the multifaceted work of our Union, as well as for his long-term, consistent and multidimensional input in Greek shipping.

In the volatile global environment, shipping has been functioning as a beacon of stability, responding to the unprecedented conditions we have been facing in the last two years due to the international health crisis, as well as due to the geopolitical crisis of recent months in Europe. Once again, the shipping industry has highlighted both its strategic and substantive dimension and its essential contribution to the functioning of the global ecosystem.

Being fully aware that society does not have a full understanding of the indispensable and multi-level contribution of shipping, I call on all of us who belong to the shipping family to act as messengers of the vital role of shipping internationally.

Greek shipping, which ranks first in the world with almost 21% of the world’s tonnage and accounts for 59% of the European Union fleet, has a responsibility to undertake and support initiatives, in order to inform and enlighten the wider public about the strategic importance of the industry and the need for its prioritisation by the political leaders worldwide.

In this context, the issue of environmental awareness and the green footprint of shipping is connected to the major issue of climate change. Shipping, as an industry, has timely adopted and implemented an environmental and efficient mode of operation, which is constantly improving. In addition, it continues to be at the heart of legislative spate at both international and regional level, for the adoption of drastic environmental measures, which aim at a complete carbon-free shipping.

The fact is that shipping is drastically minimising pollutants, while at the same time it is constantly investing in new, modern technologies, which are environmentally advanced and certified, with the Greek-owned fleet, leading in environmentally friendly new ships.

In any case, it should be underlined, that shipping needs international rules and in no case regional measures, which distort international competition. Moreover, shipping cannot move towards a carbon-free future on its own. Collective action is required, together with out-of-sector stakeholders, such as ship engine manufacturers, marine fuel producers and suppliers.

Horizontal and cross-sectional measures, such as the current EU Emissions Trading System, are not in accordance with the special characteristics of shipping. Greek shipping, as a leader, utilising its accumulated know-how, remains a forerunner of developments, always with realistic proposals and substantial goals, such as the research and development of alternative, environmentally friendly maritime fuels.

At national level, we cooperate with the State to preserve the competitiveness of the Greek-owned fleet, which is a substantial parameter for the maximisation of the multidimensional contribution of shipping to our country.

The choice of the Greek flag, the modernisation of the Greek Ship Register as well as the choice of shipping companies to be based in Greece, all constitute a common goal of the State and the shipping industry.

In addition, it remains our priority to communicate to the younger generation the prospects of choosing seafaring as a profession. To achieve this goal, we work with the responsible academies, organisations and the State, aiming at a holistic reform of the maritime education system, in order to create the right modern foundations, so that young people, women and men, can be educated and integrated and also progress in our industry, revitalising the seamanship of our nation.

Last but not least, the impact of social solidarity of Greek shipping, both at an individual, as well as at a collective level, is recorded and acknowledged over time. For decades, both national and global institutions, organisations, programs have been funded and operating with the decisive contribution of Greek shipowners. Beneficence has always been an inspiration and a guide for all of us. At UGS, our mission is to contribute to society. The UGS with SYN-ENOSIS, in a period of 10 years, have raised over 80,000,000 euros for the implementation of welfare activities in the health and education sector, in initiatives to provide for and support vulnerable social groups and to handle emergency crises. My personal goal for SYNENOSIS is to UNITE all of us, all members of the shipping community, in a common vision for a better world, a more humane world.

We are obviously going through a period during which ongoing developments are both rapid and destabilising. In this demanding environment, Greek-owned shipping stands ready and strong to meet national and international challenges with prudence, realism, vision and knowledge as a global leader in shipping.