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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

European Parliament Transport Committee discuss Prestige report

MEP Dirk Sterckx, rapporteur for the ‘Prestige Report’, presented his draft report to the EP Transport Committee on 12 June and highlighted his meeting on the preceding day with the captain of the Prestige.

Shortly after the Prestige accident, the European Parliament (EP) decided to draft its own report on the Prestige accident. The decision came in response to several European Parliament party groups pressing for an independent Parliamentary inquiry into the accident.

 

MEP Dirk Sterckx (Liberals, the Netherlands) was appointed rapporteur for the ‘Prestige Report’, and in March Mr. Sterckx called a full public hearing before the EP Transport Committee. INTERTANKO, together with other relevant maritime interests, participated actively in the hearing, and on 12 June the rapporteur presented his draft report to the EP Transport Committee. Account taken of the very heated debates that followed the Prestige incident, Mr. Sterckx presented a very balanced and well founded report. Judging from the debate that followed the rapporteur can also expect wide support for his recommendations when the report comes up for final vote in the EP Plenary in September.

 

Interestingly, whilst Mr. Sterckx welcomes an earlier phasing out of single-hulled tankers and calls on the IMO to agree on a similar schedule, the rapporteur also recognises that double-hulled tankers may not be the ultimate answer to safety concerns. Indeed he points out that such vessels might bring their own safety challenges. In his report Mr. Sterckx therefore calls on the Commission to ask the European Safety Agency to investigate this issue further.

 

Significantly, however, when presenting his report to the EP Transport Committee, Mr. Sterckx highlighted his meeting on the preceding day with the captain of the Prestige. In his report on the first and only meeting he had been allowed with the captain, the EP rapporteur described the master and the actions he undertook during the five days the accident evolved in very favourable terms. Mr. Sterckx also explicitly made a link to the current Commission proposal on penal sanctions for environmental crime and urged his fellow MEPs to seriously consider whether criminalizing seafarers was the way to go in order to increase safety at sea.

 

After the EP Transport Committee’s initial debate on 12 June, the report will now be open for amendments from other MEPs and political groups for another week. Mr. Sterckx also announced that he would introduce a few more changes himself, notably taking into account comments from other interested parties and not least from his discussions with the captain. Thereafter the report will be voted on in the July EP Transport Committee session before the final vote and formal adoption in the EP Plenary in September.

 

It is to be expected that the final report, which will be adopted in September, will resemble the current draft to a large extent. As can be seen from the article below, the report is likely to contain a number of action points directed towards the European Commission. After having given its initial and positive reactions to the report in the Transport Committee this week, it is therefore to be expected that later in the autumn the Commission will come forward with a more reasoned opinion on how to deal with the various EP requests following from the Prestige report. It should therefore not be ruled out that the action list of the Prestige report will end up as the basis for the Commission’s work programme on maritime safety and environment for the next couple of years.

 

Contact:Peter Swift