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EMSA Takes Up Permanent Abode In Lisbon

by Ulrika Lomas, for LawAndTax-News.com, Brussels

18 September 2006


The official inauguration of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) was held on 14th September in Lisbon; the agency had been operating temporarily from Brussels since it was set up in 2002 after the Erika oil tanker spill.

The ceremony took place in the presence of 400 invitees, inclouding José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, Portuguese Prime Minister José Socrates Carvalho Pinto de Sousa, Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation Efthimios Mitropoulos, and Jacques Barrot, Commission Vice-President and Commissioner for Transport.

“I feel very pleased and privileged with the high number of attendees today, which shows that the European Maritime Safety Agency has found its place. The great support from the European Commission, the European Parliament, Member States and the maritime industry will enable the Agency to continue its work in strengthening maritime safety. Together, we will come closer to our goal of attaining safer and cleaner shipping in the European Union,” said EMSA Executive Director Willem de Ruiter.

To mark the occasion, European Commissioner and Vice-President Jacques Barrot unveiled replicas of a maritime astrolabe and a portolan chart, linking the opening of the EMSA building in Lisbon to the rich maritime history of Portugal. He also gave a press conference in the wheel house of the EMSA contracted oil recovery vessel "Ile de Bréhat."

At the opening ceremony, attendees were reminded of the three main areas in which the Agency works, which are:

  • supporting the European Commission with the monitoring of the implementation of EU maritime safety legislation and providing technical assistance to new legislative initiatives;
  • facilitating technical co-operation between Member States and between Member States and the European Commission; and
  • providing Member States and the European Commission with technical and scientific assistance in the field of accidental or deliberate marine pollution by ships and supporting, on request, the pollution response mechanisms of Member States.

Located in a new building in the EXPO 98 area of Lisbon, EMSA today employs around 120 people and its budget is EUR44.6 million for the 2006 financial year. The agency is also tasked with controlling ship building and maintenance, the training of sailors who work on ships registered in any of the 25 European Union member states and harmonising maritime laws across the EU.


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