SafeMed II Project assisting its beneficiaries in VIMSAS implementation

The EU funded MEDA Regional Transport Project SafeMed II, which is being implemented by REMPEC in the Mediterranean region, is currently engaged in providing relevant technical assistance to its beneficiaries in the implementation of the Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme (VIMSAS). An objective at the core of SafeMed II Project, VIMSAS is an initiative to ensure compliance with statutory international maritime requirements.

The SafeMed II Project is assisting those beneficiaries that request support in their preparations for their respective VIMSAS audit. Several beneficiaries have already requested this assistance, which generally takes the form of a national workshop, followed by a short consultancy mission to assess the degree of preparedness of the national competent authorities. The purpose of the workshop is to increase awareness of the participants to the Audit scheme and on the role the national authorities in the process. 

Following requests from their respective maritime authorities, the EU-funded project SafeMed II has this year delivered national workshops on VIMSAS in Jordan, Israel and Turkey. The latter was the first of the SafeMed beneficiaries to have officially volunteered for the Audit. This week, following the successful organization of a SafeMed II national VIMSAS workshop in Haifa, Israel last month, Israel officially informed the International Maritime Organization (IMO) of its willingness to be audited. 

Jordan was the first SafeMed II Project beneficiary to request a VIMSAS national workshop, in February 2010. Further workshops are planned to be held in Syria, Morocco and Egypt. 

Organised in close cooperation with the IMO, these workshops are attended by participants from the respective maritime administrations and other national authorities such as those responsible for transport, security, and the environment, which will all be involved in the audit process of the implementation of the State's duties as a Flag State, Coastal State and Port State. 

Lectures are delivered by experienced IMO Lead Auditors, who are in charge of auditing the volunteering States on behalf of the IMO and National VIMSAS Contact Points. These workshops are organized by SafeMed II, as part of the activities on Flag State Implementation and fulfillment of international obligations. 

The €5.5 million SafeMed II project being implemented by the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC) and part of the EuroMed Transport Programme seeks to mitigate the existing imbalance between the participating partners that are EU Mediterranean member states and the non EU members from the region in the application of maritime legislation. Among its activities, it funds scholarships to the World Maritime University in Malmö, Sweden, and the IMO International Maritime Law Institute in Malta. SafeMed’s beneficiaries are Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey. Recently, within the context of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and following the allocation of extra funds, the European Commission decided to involve Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro in the SafeMed II Project, as beneficiary countries from specific activities.