On 8 June 2017, the Council of the European Union endorsed, in its conclusions, the Valletta declaration on the EU’s maritime policy, which was adopted at an informal ministerial conference on 29 March 2017.

The Council defined the priorities of EU’s maritime transport policy up to 2020, including greater competitiveness, decarbonisation and digitalization in order to ensure global connectivity, an efficient internal market and a world-class maritime cluster.

With regard to competitiveness and granting a level playing field in Europe and abroad, the Council underlines, for example, that it is essential to provide stable, predictable and competitive framework conditions based on high international standards for safety, security, environment and social conditions, in order to to develop a world leading maritime transport industry in Europe.

In the field of digitalization, the Council recalls the need for full and swift implementation of the so called “Blue Belt”, an area where vessels can operate freely within the EU internal market with a minimum of administrative burden, and invites the Commission to provide information on a regular basis to stakeholders on its implementation and effectiveness.

Finally, regarding decarbonisation and reduction of air emissions, the Council, among its proposals, invites the Member States and the Commission to work together towards the adoption in 2018 of an ambitious initial International Maritime Organization (IMO) strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships.