Cyprus performance on Maritime Safety and Security
A successful fiscal policy
Cyprus in the E.U.
CYPRUS PERFORMANCE ON MARITIME SAFETY AND SECURITY
From Europe's best kept secret... to Europe's new frontier
Since the beginning of the accession negotiations, Cyprus had to embark on a new maritime policy, focused on the enhancement of maritime safety and maritime security.
The particular importance that Cyprus attaches to maritime safety is reflected in the substantial amount of work completed for the purpose of harmonisation of its legislation with the European Acquis and its effective implementation. A number of measures have been introduced for the effective control of the fleet and the maintenance of high standards of safety.
A stricter registration procedure is applied during the last few years and extensive surveys of ships applying for registration under the Cyprus Flag are undertaken by surveyors on behalf of the administration in an effort to eliminate substandard vessels, which might damage the reputation of the Cyprus flag internationally.
Furthermore, a series of proactive measures have been adopted for high-risk vessels, particularly overaged bulk-carriers which are scheduled for structural surveys at drydock. This measure led to the flagging out of a number of high risk vessels before their scheduled survey.
Unscheduled inspections of Cyprus flag ships are carried out by surveyors and inspectors of the Department of Merchant Shipping (DMS) where particular attention is given to the size, type and age of the ships, the qualifications of their crew and the living and working conditions on board.
Special procedures for inspection following detention of Cyprus flag ships by foreign Port State Control authorities have been adopted and follow-up action is taken by both the recognized classification societies and the surveyors and inspectors of the DMS. Inspections of foreign ships calling at Cyprus Ports are carried out, in accordance with international conventions (IMO and ILO), which are currently in force.
In order to provide adequate coverage of inspections globally, the worldwide network of Inspectors of Cyprus ships has been further expanded and comprises at present 33 surveyors covering 23 important ports in 14 countries. In addition, the Department of Merchant Shipping has been continuously strengthened with professional staff, where its present capacity of 39 highly qualified Marine Surveyors and 16 Merchant Shipping Officers.
All efforts and measures taken by the Department of Merchant Shipping to minimise the number of casualties and the rate of port state control detention record of the Cyprus fleet, have paid off for Cyprus, which is now classified in the White list of the Paris MOU and Tokyo MOU.
The main thrust of the efforts of the Department of Merchant Shipping is now directed at the training and certification of Seafarers and their conditions of living and work on board Cyprus flag ships. The Maritime administration circulated specific guidelines to all recognized and authorized Classification Societies advising them to intensify and widen the scope of their surveys and include systematic checks of important ILO conventions requirements.
Particular attention is also given to the protection of the environment and the prevention of marine pollution. In that respect the DMS implements the EU Regulation for the accelerated phasing out of the single hull tankers.
The DMS concentrates its efforts on maritime security. The International Ship and Port Facility Security Code has been adopted and is implemented. All ships under the Cyprus flag as well as all port facilities in Cyprus have been duly certified as complying with the requirements of this Code.
The quality and speed of services rendered by the Department of Merchant Shipping is an important aspect, which affects the competitiveness of the flag. An upgrade of the services rendered will be achieved with the completion of the project MARCOS for the full computerisation of the Department, which is expected to become fully operational in the near future.
The Department of Merchant Shipping in an effort to upgrade the quality and speed of its services is preparing for a quality assurance certification according to the ISO 9001:2000 standard, whereas the Maritime Training and Certification Division of the Department, is already ISO certified since February 2004.
A SUCCESSFUL FISCAL POLICY
Shipowning companies pay tax based on the tonnage of the Cyprus flag ships they own, while shipmanagement companies operating in Cyprus will have the option either to pay tax at a fraction of the normal rate, on the basis of the tonnage of the ships they manage, except that of the Cyprus flag ships under their full management, or to pay tax on their income at a rate of 4,25 percent.
CYPRUS IN THE EU
Cyprus has the third largest fleet within the European Union with a percentage of 12,13% of the total fleet of the 27 EU member states.
The harmonisation with the EU acquis expedited the modernisation of the Cyprus maritime legislation in the fields of maritime safety and security.
The Cyprus Merchant Shipping Legislation has been amended in order to remove any discrimination between Cypriot citizens and citizens of the other EU member states so that, citizens of member states and corporations established and operating in member states of the EU, are also qualified to own Cyprus ships.
Under this amendment this possibility is also extended to citizens or corporations of member states of the European Economic Area (EEA).
Turkey continues to impose restrictions on Cyprus-flagged vessels and vessels serving the Cyprus trade by not allowing them to call at Turkish ports. Such restrictions violate Turkey´s obligations under the GATT as a WTO member state, and are inconsistent with the EU - Turkey Customs Union and Association Agreements. Taking into account Turkey´s EU expectations, the European Commission has on several occasions reminded Turkey of the need for lifting all restrictive measures against vessels of Cypriot interest or other Community vessels that approach the Turkish ports.
Cyprus accession to the EU offers benefits to both sides.
The EU benefits from Cyprus in terms of knowhow regarding ship registry and shipmanagement as well as from the dominant position it has acquired in world shipping as a result of the substantial increase of the fleet under its control.
The shipping infrastructure that Cyprus created over the past decades has contributed to an efficient shipping environment and expertise that many EU countries lack.
With the accession of Cyprus to the European Union, the voice of the European Union at international Organisations such as the IMO and the ILO will become even stronger and its involvement in decision making will be more significant.
Since Cyprus is fully harmonised with all international instruments currently in force as well as with the regulations and directives of the European Union, the Cyprus flag is turning into a flag of quality, which is bound to attract high quality tonnage.
Cyprus shipping has great potential to expand further and the Cyprus Registry to grow during the years to come, under the new image of a quality oriented and competitive shipping centre.