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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Maritime security and improving the image of the shipping industry top the EU agenda

On 5 and 6 June 2003, European Union (EU) Transport Ministers met to discuss i.a. the Commission’s newly proposed Regulation on enhancing ship and port facility security, the future recruitment of EU seafarers and the “image of the industry”.

On 5 and 6 June 2003, European Union (EU) Transport Ministers met for the last time under the Greek presidency.  From 1 July Italy will take over the chairmanship of the EU Council.

 

At the meeting the Ministers dealt with two maritime issues. Firstly, the Ministers had their first policy debate on the Commission’s newly proposed Regulation on enhancing ship and port facility security (see Weekly News 19/2003).  This proposal aims to transpose the provisions of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code into EU legislation.

 

EU Ministers expressed concerns, however, on a few points including some additional provisions of the proposal that could put at risk the implementation of the measures by the date set in the IMO Agreement, i.e. 1 July 2004.  The Council also questioned the Commission’s suggestion to give the Commission and EMSA the authority to control the implementation of the new EU measures.  Ministers expressed reservations at having the Commission carry out inspections in the field of national security.  Several Ministers also pointed out that EMSA was still in the establishment phase, and that it should therefore not be loaded with further demanding tasks.

 

Discussions will continue, and it is expected that an agreement will be reached at the  Transport Council of 9 and 10 October 2003.  This would enable the EU to respect IMO’s enforcement deadline of 1 July 2004.

 

The second maritime issue on the Ministers’ Council agenda concerned the future recruitment of EU seafarers and the “image of the industry”. Following up on debates held at the informal Transport Council in Greece last month, the EU Ministers decided to launch an overall strategy to promote quality shipping and the image of the industry.  Ministers are concerned by the continuous decline in the number of European seafarers.  They acknowledged the importance of sea transport in trade and its environment-friendly and cost-effective nature.  Moreover, whilst stressing the importance of Community legislation notably to reinforce proper implementation of  international legislation, they recognised the need for the EU Member States and the European Commission to act jointly in the IMO in view of the worldwide application of maritime legislation. 

 

The Transport Council recommends to promote quality shipping, notably through IMO and ILO, and to encourage the establishment of a Flag Audit scheme at the IMO.  It also proposes to create a “European Maritime Day” and a “European Maritime Image Award”.

 

It is now up to the Commission to present proposals for actions in accordance with the Transport Council’s lines, and INTERTANKO is therefore already in dialogue with the Commission on this.  In September 2003, the Directorate General for Transport of the European Commission will also meet more formally with social partners (unions and shipowners) in order to discuss these proposals in more detail.

 

Finally, the EU Transport Council took note of the recent proposal from six Member States on the designation of a sensitive area in Western Europe.  This was presented in the IMO last April.  The Council welcomed also the new Protocol to existing oil pollution liability and compensation conventions, increasing the level of amounts of compensation available under the International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage. 

 

Contact:Peter Swift