“Europe gets dark without shipping” – Greek and German Shipowners' Associations hosted a joint event on the strategic role of shipping in Brussels

“Europe gets dark without shipping” –
Greek and German Shipowners' Associations hosted a joint event on the strategic role of shipping in Brussels


During the European Shipping Summit 2023, the Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) in collaboration with the German Shipowners Association (VDR) successfully hosted a joint event in Brussels, on Tuesday the 19th of September, with the presence of their Presidents, Ms. Melina Travlos and Ms. Gaby Bornheim, respectively.

Ms. Melina Travlos, President of the Union of Greek Shipowners, stated, in the context of the event:

Greek and German Shipowners' Associations have joined forces to highlight the strategic role of shipping for the stability, prosperity and energy security of Europe and its people.

Holding a joint event with the German Shipowners Association (VDR) as part of the European Shipping Summit 2023 in Brussels is an initiative that results from our common view of the challenges facing our sector and a like-minded approach to addressing them.

Our cooperation aims to draw attention to the strategic role that shipping plays as a key enabler of the European economy and as a major contributor to securing Europeans’ quality of life.

As the UGS our mission is to safeguard the future not only of Greek shipping but also of European shipping. It is of the utmost importance that the vital role played by European shipping is recognised by key European institutions as well as by the wider public. It is a fact that shipping contributes in countless ways to the smooth functioning of European society as well as supporting communities across the world, even at times of crisis such as those experienced in recent years.”


The event stressed the strategic importance of shipping for the EU. Key officials from the European Commission and industry experts had the opportunity to exchange their views on how Europe can preserve and enhance its EU shipping status. The event highlighted the indispensable role of shipping to the EU’s food security and energy autonomy, as the vast majority of basic food and energy imports are transported by vessels.

Mr Ioannis Vrailas, the Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Greece to the European Union, in his keynote speech, stated: “the EU is called to not only safeguard but guarantee the global competitiveness and long-term sustainability of this strategic sector. This is a challenge which we must all address successfully for the benefit of Europe and European citizens”.

Ms Fotini Ioannidou, Acting Director of Waterborne Transport and Head of the Maritime Safety Unit of DG MOVE, pointed out that: “Shipping is an essential pillar of the European economy. Nobody can doubt its strategic importance for the security of our supply of energy and other essential materials and goods. We need a European shipping industry and maritime clusters that are green, competitive and resilient so that they can successfully navigate the challenges ahead”.


Shipping is a resilient pillar of support for the EU during challenging times such as the current energy crisis, ensuring Europe's stability. The sector contributes to the decarbonisation of Europe through the transportation of low or no-carbon fuels. It is important for the sector to safeguard regulatory certainty and predictability in the EU legislation”, said Mr Hans Van Steen, Principal Adviser of DG ENER


On behalf of UGS, Mr Dimitrios J. Fafalios, Secretary of the UGS Board of Directors and President/Director of Fafalios Shipping S.A., stated that “Shipping has proven to be a resilient pillar of support during challenging times, ensuring Europe's sustainability in various crises, while also being the most environmentally friendly transport mode. The EU should recognise shipping as a strategic partner in its policies, aiming at preserving and enhancing its global competitiveness”.


Last, on behalf of VDR, Mr Lucius Bunk, Founder and Managing Partner at Auerbach Shipping, Member of the VDR Board of Directors, pointed out that “Shipping urgently needs regulatory certainty due to its heterogeneity. Otherwise, the risk of mis investment is simply too high and weakens the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises in particular”.


The proceedings of the event concluded that shipping is a strategic asset and, as such, a cornerstone for the security and prosperity of Europe. A clear message was hopefully sent to the EU institutions about the importance of preserving EU shipping global competitiveness and the absolute need to enhance it with concrete and fit for purpose policies.