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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

ERIKA-PROPOSALS MOVE ON

After having tabled three working documents before a hearing with industry on 1 March and EU member states on 2 March, the Commission is currently pressing ahead with its proposals.

These proposals are expected to be tabled formally at a Commission meeting on the 22 March in the form of a Communication on “safe tanker shipping”. Despite heavy opposition from both Member States’ experts and from industry – particularly on part three of the package - the Commission’s proposals seem likely to focus on 3 areas, i.e.

1. Changes to the EU Directive on Port State Control (PSC)

These include enhanced surveys for tankers over 15 years, increased flow of information between class, PSC and flag state, and listing of the charterer in PSC detention data.

2. Changes to the EU Directive on Classification Societies

These include the increased possibility for the Commission to prevent class societies from doing statutory work for Member States, and increased EU surveillance of the quality standards of classification societies.

3. Faster phasing out of single skin tankers in European waters

This initiative includes compliance with the MARPOL phasing out rules for tankers below 20,000 dwt, and to put a final deadline for single hull tankers irrespective of age at 2015, (i.e. two years earlier than under the MARPOL rules).

As things now stand the proposals are likely to be tabled for discussion with the Ministers at the Transport Council on 28 March. INTERTANKO has been in constant contact with the Commission as well as with leading member states primarily discouraging any EU actions (on point three) outside the IMO. This activity is bound to continue well beyond the 28 March, but then primarily directed towards member states and European Parliament.

Furthermore, the Commission has announced its intention to come forward with yet another policy document on maritime safety later in the year. In this document the following issues will be addressed:

1. Increased transparency of information within the industry (ref. the planned start-up of the “European Quality Shipping Information System” – EQUASIS – later this year)

2. Improved VTS in Europe

3. A possible European maritime safety agency

4. Challenges arising from the widening of the EU by accession of new member states (Cyprus, Malta)

5. Possible amendments to the existing oil spill liability system

Among the five, the latter one is likely to create most of the debate. Judging from the political mood in the aftermath of Erika, the Commission is likely to seek both (substantially) higher levels of compensation and some form of financial incitements in order to increase in particular cargo owners’ responsibility. It seems pretty clear, however, that the Commission has fully accepted that the Civil Liability and Fund Conventions are useful systems, which must be maintained and built upon.

Port reception facilities

Following the Council Common Position which was adopted in June last year, the European Parliament (EP) had its second reading of the proposed directive on 13 and 14 March. The EP’s discussions were based on a draft report prepared by the rapporteur, MEP Mr.Theo Bouwmann (Green, NL) arguing for among other things a higher proportion of the costs to be included in the general port fees.

It is now clear that the majority of the Parliament voted for major amendments to the Council’s Common position and that the issue will therefore have to be dealt with under the so-called “conciliation procedure”, which in effect is a negotiation between the Parliament and the Council on a possible compromise text. In the rather unlikely event of no agreement being reached the whole draft legislation will fall. More likely, however, a compromise that is acceptable to INTERTANKO is likely to emerge and to be adopted before the end of the year. For further information: mailto:dagfinn.lunde@intertanko.com