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Friday, July 20, 2018

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DISCUSSES ERIKA DIRECTIVES

Earlier this week INTERTANKO attended a meeting of the European Parliament’s Transport Committee, gathering for the first time to discuss the three Erika Directives on single hull phase-out, class and port state control.

Working Documents were presented to the Committee from three of the MEP rapporteurs to which the Committee was invited to comment. In each of the Working Documents it was positive to note that the positions now being presented are more in-line with the industry view than they have been since the decision to take action in January this year. However, until this meeting there was still no real understanding of how the Parliament was thinking on the issue.

Once the papers had been presented the discussion was opened to the Committee. In the space of 30 minutes it was evident that the Committee members had taken on board the problem the industry had with the Commission’s proposals. In particular, several members of the Committee spoke of the IMO as the first step in developing legislation to prevent such accidents in the future. A number of speakers also felt that a less severe and more realistic phase-out strategy should be proposed and that further action must be taken in IMO before any formal developments could be undertaken by the Parliament.

On port state control there was a call for an implementation of legislation and not for the development of new legislation (this was also echoed in the case of the Class Directive). Speakers noted that several EU Member States still had not been able to meet the requirements of the current port state control Directive. It was felt that amendments should be made to the current directive that allowed for better control over vessels using flag states that were not Member States and in particular developing a black list of flag states based upon detention rates.

Liability of class societies when acting on behalf of the member states was an issue that held favour among the majority of speakers, although there was still some uncertainty as to the amount of liability. The Commission is known to be proposing a minimum liability of Eur2.5million where-as the Parliament are looking at between Eur2.5million and Eur5 million as a maximum limit on liability. What is still not clear on this issue is that of the class society’s liability to the owner.

A positive message can be taken from this meeting, as it now appears that there is a strong feeling that the IMO is the forum in which to handle this issue. Furthermore, the Parliament appears to have taken onboard the need to tighten directives on class and PSC with regards to enforcing the responsibilities that the Members States have in each piece of legislation.