European Commission recognize SSS as a highly efficient mode in terms of environmental performance and energy efficiency and as such the Commission has an active policy to promote Short Sea Shipping.

In the 1990s, SSS was the only transport mode that proved able to keep up with the rapid growth of road transportation. Between 1995 and 2002, the return rate per kilometer tones in both modes was increased by 25%. In 2001, Short Sea Shipping performed 40% of all freight transports in Europe, while the share of road transport was 45%.

On the basis of the above, and combining the development of SSS as occurred during the 1999-2003 period within the Community’s promotional program in 2003, the Commission prepared a program which included 14 individual actions subdivided into measures for the achievement of the White Paper objectives and the further promotion of SSS.

The European transport policies have a significant effect on the transport industry as well as on the service providers, since they may induce changes both in the market (industrial structure / technical integration), or/and the traffic and the shippers. The actions of the promotional program were divided into legislative, technical and operational. (Com (2003) 155)

More recently, during the Hellenic Presidency (2014) the “Mid-term Review of the EU’s Maritime Transport Policy until 2018 and Outlook to 2020” has been the subject of the Informal Maritime Ministerial Meeting of the EU Member States and EEA Countries. Ministers responsible for Maritime Transport under the chairmanship of Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, adopted the “Athens Declaration” ", which is the basis for the further development and implementation of maritime policy in Europe by 2020.

The most important issues which have emerged from the “Athens Declaration” and shall constitute the EU’s shipping policy priorities in the years to come, are the following:

  1. The important role of shipping to Europe’s economy and prosperity.
  2. Secure the long-term competitiveness of the EU’s maritime industry.
  3. Increase employment in the maritime sector.
  4. Free access to markets.


Furthermore, the Declaration emphasizes that Short Sea Shipping needs to play a stronger role in the EU. In recognition of this, the Ministers referred to the need to financially support the environmental performance of aged Short Sea Ships in order to comply with the new requirements such as low sulphur consumption standards, scrubbers or LNG fuelling, wishing that this would be done in EU shipyard.