Hellenic Coast Guard Commandant Keynote Address

Vice Admiral Dimitrios P. BANTIAS, Commandant of the Hellenic Coast Guard - Chairman of the ECGFF 2012-2013

during the 4th ECGFF Plenary Conference (Dublin, 22-08-2013)1

Hellenic Chairmanship of the Heads of Coast Guard Functions of the EU Forum 2012 - 2013

Dear Chairman of the European Coast Guard Functions Forum,
Dear Heads of the Coast Guard Functions of the EU and Schengen associated Countries,
Distinguished Representatives of the European Commission and European Agencies,
Dear Colleagues,

It is indeed a great honour for me personally and the Hellenic Coast Guard to address this Conference as the new Chair of our Forum for the time period 2012 – 2013.

With gratitude, I would like to thank all of you and each of you individually for entrusting the Chair of the Forum to the Hellenic Coast Guard.

First of all, allow me to express my deepest appreciation to the distinguished colleague Director of the Irish Coast Guard Chris Reynolds as Chair of the Forum and his team and to the Members of the Secretariat of the Forum for the excellent work of the previous year, that contributed to the establishment of firm foundations of the Forum.

You have succeeded not only to complete your mandate given by the previous Conference in Malmo but also, to significantly increase awareness of the role and the work of the Forum at European level. You have also made an enormous effort to provide us with concrete results of the potential future actions and initiatives that the Forum of the Heads could undertake and we thank you for that.

Dear Colleagues,

Allow me to share with you some thoughts that demonstrate the importance that we attribute to our Forum.

It is our collective understanding that the seas and coasts of Europe are a vital resource upon which millions of European citizens depend, both economically and for their quality and safety of life.

Following a number of major environmental and human tragedies, the European Commission and the Member States of the European Union began to realise that there is a need to build a stronger relationship not only among their national actors but also among them in the area of coast guard functions. Maritime safety, maritime security, maritime border control, maritime surveillance, marine environmental protection and response, search and rescue, accident and disaster response and fisheries control is a, non exhaustive, list of coast guard tasks.

In this context, the creation of the European Coast Guard Functions Forum constitutes a major initiative having as overall aim to study, contribute to and promote the understanding and development of maritime issues of importance and common interest related to Coast Guard Functions across borders and sectors.

The sincere and constant support of this EU common effort by the Council of EU and the European Parliament as well as by the competent services of the European Commission and the relevant European Union Agencies, reveals not only the wide acknowledgement of its important role, but also the expectations from our work.

Ιn order to strengthen the role of the Forum in the future, today more than ever, the challenge lies in finding mechanisms to make the future work of the Forum sustainable and accessible. This goal is obviously raising the need for a Permanent Secretariat that will support the future Chairs, working groups and actions as well as the necessary funding in the medium as well as to the long term.

In this context, Greece, recognising the need to promote an integrated approach for coast guard functions at EU level, has proposed to include it as an objective to be supported by the EU Integrated Maritime Policy under the next financial perspectives (2014-2020), particularly by the new European Maritime & Fisheries Fund.

Fully respecting the Principles of Subsidiarity and Proportionality, the active presence of the Forum in a costructive way, providing relevant recommendations as appropriate, taking into account experiences on common practices, could be a main goal. To that extent, we will concetrate our efforts waving towards increasing European awareness of the Forum’s mission and its ability to substantialy contribute to the European Union decision making process and institutions with its expertise and experience.

Assuming the next Chairmanship of the Forum, the Hellenic Coast Guard envisages for the further promotion of the exchange of information, expertise, best practices, training.

Finally, the Hellenic Coast Guard, as the new Chair of the Forum, will endeavour to coordinate all participants in order to elaborate further during the next months on new ideas for actions. To that extent, we invite you all, our counterparts, the European Agencies and Services of the Commission to contribute towards this goal.

Ladies & Gentlemen,

I have a dream. I have a dream this Forum to be one day of a constitutional nature in the E.U. With your support this dream might be realised.

Thank you for your attention and I look forward to meeting you in Greece.

© Forum of the Heads of the Coast Guards
Functions of the European Union and
Schengen associated countries