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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Prestige incident brings ship safety and environment to the top of the European Union agenda

The sinking of the tanker “Prestige” off the coast of Spain and Portugal has once more brought ship safety and the marine environment to the top of the European Union agenda.

In the aftermath of the European Parliament Resolution on Prestige adopted last Thursday, it has now been decided that both the EU’s Transport and Environment Ministers, and probably also the Fisheries Ministers will discuss these matters at their respective Council meetings in early December. Furthermore it has been confirmed that maritime safety will once again (as after the Erika) be on the agenda for the European Heads of States’ meeting in Copenhagen on 16 December. (See our article dated 22 November.)

At this stage it is still too early to judge to what extent this new accident will spur new European legislative initiatives. It is clear, however, that the European Council, Commission and Parliament are again looking at maritime safety and the environment amidst a very heated political debate.

Against this background, INTERTANKO’s Managing Director Mr. Peter Swift was therefore present in Brussels this week, where he met not only the EU Commission Vice President and Commissioner for Transport and Energy, Ms. Loyola De Palacio, but also the senior Commission officials responsible for maritime affairs, leading members of the European Parliament as well as representatives of the Danish presidency of the EU Council and of the incoming Greek presidency (Greece will take over the chairmanship of the EU Council of Ministers from 1 January 2003).

Throughout all these meetings INTERTANKO emphasised that, unlike in the Erika case, this time the historic records and evidence appear to be in full compliance with the established industry norms. It was therefore of outmost importance to thoroughly investigate the accident and all the circumstances in this particular case before new measures were taken. Further, all parts of the industry involved had been fully transparent and had already offered to participate fully in such investigations. It was important that any debate on age and single- versus double-hull as contributory factors or issues should be debated rationally and dispassionately. He also emphasised the need to progress quickly on the establishment of places of refuge.

Contact: Peter Swift, peter.swift@intertanko.com