14 January 2014 17:25

Cyprus, Greece and Malta will extend their cooperation in promoting common interests in and outside Europe, Communications Minister Tasos Mitsopoulos said on Monday.
He met Greek Shipping Minister Miltiades Varvitsiotis and Malta's Transport and Infrastructure Minister Jopheson Mizzi with President Anastasiades. Mitsopoulos said shipping is a very powerful sector for the three countries.
"It is also of vital importance that we will safeguard the competitiveness of our fleets and our shipping registrars."
The Minister expects that with its EU Presidency, Greece which is a world shipping power will exercise pressure so that common interests and targets will be better promoted at a European level.
"Our aim is to widen this cooperation with the participation of other countries that also have strong fleets and strong shipping registrars."
President Anastasiades expressed an interest and his readiness to support these issues at his meeting tomorrow with British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Varvitsiotis said that Greece has included EU maritime policy in its priorities.
"We believe that its is important to keep the competitive advantage of European shipping and of course for Brussels and European bureaucracy to realise what would be Europe's benefit keeping a very large fleet under its flag with shipmanagement."
He noted the importance of the contribution of other Member States with strong fleets and registrars like Cyprus and Malta in servicing this priority.
In Europe around 5.5 million people are employed in the wider maritime sector and it is hoped this number could increase to 7 million by 2020 with the right policies.
Asked whether there are efforts by Brussels to tax shipping, Varvitsiotis said the message is that major and non-competitive taxes on shipping will be an overall loss of this competitive advantage for Europe.
"Today the cargoes of world shipping are in the East. We don't want the EU to lose the basis of all these shipping companies that add wealth, prestige and power to the EU."
Cyprus is the third largest merchant shipping fleet in the EU after Greece and Malta.  


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