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Maritime safety: Council adopts positions to support clean and modern shipping in the EU

Maritime safety: Council adopts positions to support clean and modern shipping in the EU

Fonte: Consilium.europa.eu The Council has adopted a set of positions (general approaches) on four Commission proposals in the ‘maritime safety’ le

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Fonte: Consilium.europa.eu

The Council has adopted a set of positions (general approaches) on four Commission proposals in the ‘maritime safety’ legislative package, namely those amending:

  • the 2009 directive on port state control
  • the 2005 directive on ship-source pollution
  • the 2009 directive on compliance with flag state requirements, and
  • the 2009 directive on the investigation of accidents in the maritime transport sector

We have worked hard and managed to agree on these proposals in record time in the Council. Today’s decisions set the baselines for safer and cleaner maritime transport in Europe. We hope to make as much progress as possible in our talks with the Parliament on these important laws by the end of the year.

Óscar Puente, Spanish minister of transport and sustainable mobility

The proposed revised directives have to achieve a careful balance between, on the one hand, the need to ensure a high standard of shipping and, on the other, the need to safeguard the competitiveness of the European shipping sector, while also maintaining reasonable costs for operators and member states’ administrations.

Directive on port state control

The proposal to amend the directive on port state control aims to:

  • update EU legislation and align it with international rules and procedures as set out in the Paris memorandum of understanding (MoU) and International Maritime Organization (IMO) conventions
  • protect fishing vessels, their crews and the environment, including by introducing a voluntary inspections regime for larger fishing vessels (more than 24 metres in length)
  • ensure an efficient and harmonised approach to carrying out port state control inspections

The general thrust of the Commission proposal has been retained in the Council’s position. However, the Council proposes a number of changes, most of them aiming to ensure clarity and coherence with international rules and procedures, especially those of the Paris MoU. The provisions regarding landlocked countries are also clarified to avoid imposing a disproportionate administrative burden on member states that do not have seaports.

Directive on ship-source pollution

The main aims of the revision of the directive on ship-source pollution are to:

  • extend the scope of the directive to cover illegal discharges of harmful substances in packaged form, sewage, garbage and discharged waters and residues
  • establish a strengthened legal framework for penalties and their application, enabling national authorities to take adequate action in the event of illegal discharge and impose administrative penalties
  • separate the administrative sanctions regime from the criminal sanctions regime enshrined in the new draft environmental crimes directive

The general thrust of the Commission proposal was welcomed and has been retained in the Council’s position. However, the Council has introduced a number of changes to ensure clarity and coherence with international rules and procedures, in particular those of the international convention for the prevention of pollution from ships (MARPOL).

Furthermore, the Council has indicated more clearly that the proposal concerns administrative penalties only, taking into account the differing legal systems in the member states. Finally, more flexibility has been introduced as regards member states’ obligations to verify and report pollution incidents, to avoid imposing an excessive administrative burden and in recognition of member states’ diverse situations in terms of geographical location, resources and capabilities.

Directive on compliance with flag state requirements

The existing directive aims to ensure that member states have adequate resources to carry out their obligations as flag states correctly, effectively and consistently. The specific objectives of the revision are to:

  • update the directive and align it with international rules, to ensure greater consistency and legal clarity, mainly with regard to the IMO instruments implementation code (‘III code’)
  • ensure adequate inspections of flagged ships and monitoring oversight of recognised organisations working on behalf of the flag state
  • ensure a harmonised approach in the understanding, measuring and reporting of the performance of flag states’ fleets and duties

The general thrust of the Commission proposal has been retained in the Council’s position. However, the Council has made a number of changes, most of them to ensure consistency with the III code. The position limits the scope of the directive to ships with international certificates and engaging in international voyages. The Commission is also mandated to set up a ships information database for issuing and verifying electronic certificates. Use of the database will be optional and member states may continue to use their existing databases. Finally, to avoid imposing a disproportionate administrative burden on member states which do not have national registers or ships flying their flag that fall within the scope of the legislation, it has been clarified that they would not be obliged to transpose the revised directive.

Directive on investigation of accidents in the maritime transport sector

The proposal aims to simplify and clarify the existing regime governing the investigation of accidents in the maritime transport sector. The extension of its scope to include smaller fishing vessels (together with other changes concerning such vessels in the proposed port state control and flag state requirements directives) will improve the safety of fishing vessels in European waters.

The specific objectives of the proposal to amend the current directive are to:

  • improve the protection of fishing vessels, their crews and the environment, with fishing vessels less than 15 metres in length now included within the scope of the directive, meaning that accidents involving fatalities and loss of vessels will be investigated in a systematic and harmonised way
  • clarify the definitions and the legal provisions so that member states’ accident investigation bodies investigate all accidents that need to be investigated in a timely and harmonised manner
  • enhance the capacity of accident investigation bodies to conduct and report on accident investigations in a timely, expert and independent manner
  • update several definitions and references to relevant EU legislation and IMO regulations, to ensure clarity and consistency

The general thrust of the Commission’s proposal has been retained by the Council. However, the Council has made a number of changes to this proposal, mainly aiming to enable accident investigation bodies to conduct accident investigations in a harmonised way throughout the EU by making the existing rules clearer and more consistent with international regulations. Other amendments aim to strengthen the provisions regarding the independence of accident investigation bodies and the confidentiality of their findings, and to reduce unnecessary administrative burdens.

Next steps

Following today’s adoption of the Council’s negotiating mandates (general approaches), the Spanish presidency can begin talks (‘trilogues’) with the European Parliament. It intends to make as much progress on these files as possible by the end of the year.

 

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