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Saturday, October 20, 2018

EUROPEAN UNION - A summary of the state of affairs on the follow-up to the Erika accident at the end of the year 2000.

One year has passed since the product tanker Erika sank off the coast of France. The accident has had dramatic and long lasting effects on the political and regulatory scene. Not only in Europe but also internationally. In October the IMO MEPC went a long way in order to accommodate the European Union’s (EU) wish to align the phase out rules of MARPOL with those of OPA 90.

After unanimous endorsement of the MEPC result in the European Parliament on 30th November and similar support from European transport ministers on 20th December Council meeting, it seems highly likely that regional rules in Europe will be avoided.  Instead we will see nearly identical rules applied through MARPOL.

On the two other issues incorporated in the “Erika I package”, however, the Council meeting reconfirmed important differences of opinion between the European Parliament and the Member States’ ministers.  First of all the Council refuses to go as far on a ban of black listed registers in European waters as suggested by the European Parliament.  At the same time it seems clear that even the Council is prepared to consider some increased targeting in Port State Control (PSC) as well as some banning measures against ships detained more than twice, both linked to black listed registers as a criterion.

Furthermore, the Council reiterated its disagreement with the Parliament over the question of liability for Classification societies.  Member States’ insist that they want to see unlimited liability introduced.

On both the PSC issue and the question of classification societies, a compromise text between the Council and the Parliament’s positions must be identified and agreed in the second phase of decision-making which will start both in Parliament and the Council in the New Year.  Final decisions on the three “Erika I” proposals might thereafter be expected in June 2001 with EU wide implementation one year later.

The “Erika II” package, presented by the Commission on 6 December, contains three new wide reaching proposals on traffic monitoring, oil spill liability and a European safety Agency.   These proposals will now enter a two-step decision-making process similar to the one (half way) undergone by “Erika I” package.  The 20th December Council meeting did nevertheless already at this stage adopt some formal Council conclusions which will set the political course and pace for further dealings with this proposal.  Notably, the 20th December Council conclusions support the introduction of mandatory Vessel Data Recorders (“black box”) on all ships from year 2007.  The Council also welcomes the Commission’s proposal on a third layer of compensation for oil spill in European waters and invites for a co-operation in the framework of the CLC/IOPC Fund aiming at a through revision of the current conventions.

The second Erika package – like the first one - is bound to confront the tanker industry with far reaching practical and tactical challenges.

A more in depth report can be found on INTERTANKO’s Web pages