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Thursday, April 26, 2018

DEVELOPMENTS AROUND ERIKA – latest news from Brussels

With the tabling of the European Commission’s communication on tanker safety on the 22 March we have entered a new phase of the post-Erika decision making process.

When it comes to the three sets of proposals on Port State Control (PSC), Classification societies and single hull (“the first package”) the Commission is no longer in the “driving seat”.  These issues are now mainly with EU member states on the one hand and with the European Parliament on the other. 

In parallel to this, INTERTANKO expects a  “second package” in the form of the Commission’s second communication to be presented to the Council and the European Parliament no later than October.  In this document, the Commission will probably come with proposals on the following items;

1.      Oil pollution liability, limits of compensation and possible links between “responsible” operators and financial contributions to the “system”

2.      Increased “transparency” (ref. “EQUASIS”)

3.      A European Maritime Agency

4.      Improved VTS in Europe

5.      Extension of EU to East European countries, Malta and Cyprus

The first package

The EU Council

At the moment, the EU Council has decided to concentrate on part one and two of the first package i.e. Port State Control and Classification societies.  A Working Group consisting of government experts from EU-delegations in Brussels has been established under the Council and has consequently started working on the draft proposal for an amended version of both the PSC and classification directives.  The aim is to have agreed texts ready before the transport ministers meet again at end of June and the work is now proceeding at great speed. Provided that there is such agreement among member states in the working group, the ministers are likely to come to a so-called political agreement on the two first proposals at their June meeting. 

The European Parliament (EP)

In parallel with the discussions in the EU Council, the EP will deal with the three proposals.  “Rapporteurs” have now been appointed by the Transport Committee on the proposal to phase out single hull tankers and the classification proposal. The rapporteurs will produce their draft reports, which might be discussed or commented on by the full Committee before the summer and voted upon in September. 

The second package

The French delegation  to the IOPC Funds meeting earlier this month proposed that a working group be established in order to examine the adequacy of the 1992 CLC/FC regime. France stated that although on numerous occasions this regime had been able to live up to the expectations of the international community, experience had in some recent years shown that there were inadequacies in the system. France therefore proposed that a working group should review whether the CLC/FC system still met the expectations of the international community.

This was supported by several delegations, however, emphasising that any review of the international regime should be carried out from within the system in order to ensure that any future solutions were global in nature and not regional. The initial meeting of the working group is expected to be held in July. It is also expected that the Fund will, at some stage, address among other matters the two main issues: the level of compensation (ref. the political requirement to be considerably expanded up to one billion) and the link between irresponsible behaviour and financial contribution. 

INTERTANKO is monitoring closely developments and will keep its members informed.