European Commission adopts Green Paper on Ship Recycling

In Brussels this week the European Commission adopted a Green Paper outlining its strategy on the current hot issue of ship recycling. Sparked by its concern about the possible glut of single hull tankers being sent for recycling over the next eight years, the European Commission proposal consists of a series of options due for further action which it deems necessary to improve standards in the majority of the world’s ship recycling facilities.


A Commission Task Force was established early in 2006 to develop the Green Paper. Subsequently, members of the Task Force have been taking an active role at the IMO meetings on ship recycling. This lends itself well to the paper’s positive attitude to giving full support and backing to the IMO process.


What is called for as a first and important measure for consideration relates to the gap which exists between now and the final implementation of the IMO instrument. Environmental Commissioner Stavros Dimas stated in his press release that ‘there is an urgent need for binding international rules, but until an international solution is found, the EU should tackle the problem caused by the ship dismantling of state-owned ships and warships’.


This positive push for an international IMO solution has been combined with a call for the Commission to hold a member state seat at the IMO - a theme repeated in many of the Commission’s proposals on maritime matters.


However, while supporting the IMO process, the Paper seeks to fill perceived loopholes in the IMO Convention, such as its non-application to warships. It also encourages further consideration of the application of the European waste shipment regulations, which to a large degree implement the requirements of the Basel Convention on the trans-boundary movement of hazardous wastes. This is actually confusing as the efforts underway at the IMO are seen as ensuring that there is indeed clarity - by bringing ship recycling under one single, internationally recognised, legally binding instrument.


It also proposes the need to consider further the expansion of ‘clean’ recycling capacity with the unusual comment that subsidising European facilities is left for further assessment. In addition, a Ship Dismantling Fund, with levies on the shipping industry, is also proposed.


Consultation with key stakeholders will now begin and INTERTANKO will be making its comments on the paper in consultation with its Environmental Committee.


Contact: Tim Wilkins