European Environment and Transport Ministers support a global response to ship dismantling

Environment and Transport ministers meeting in Brussels this week and last concluded that the dismantling of ships must be managed in a safe and environmentally sound manner in order to protect human health and the environment. First the Environment Council, meeting on the 24 June 2005, and then Transport Council, meeting on the 27 June 2005, supported global mandatory requirements for ship dismantling. The Transport Council supported the Environment Council’s position but did not actually add to the debate.   

The Environment Council believes that a duplication of laws exists with regard to the Basel Convention and the IMO, and as a result feels that the issue of ship recycling should be addressed by an inter-agency, joint working group of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), IMO and the Basel Convention. This working group has already met and a second meeting, hosted by the Basel Convention, is set for December this year.    

The Environment Council has decided to ask the IMO to establish mandatory requirements for a ship reporting system that ensure an equivalent level of control as established under the Basel Convention. The IMO has been further invited to develop a reporting system, based on an informed prior consent procedure and including, inter alia, a contract, a ship recycling plan, a “green passport” and a list of the on board hazardous materials. 

The referral of ship dismantling, by ministers at the Environment and Transport Council, to the IMO and support for the continued work in the joint working group has clearly increased the pressure for a global response, particularly from the IMO. However, this does not prevent the European Commission from pursuing independent action. Whilst there is support for action at international level, the European Parliament and European Commission will monitor closely whether the IMO takes ‘adequate’ action.  

Mrs. Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert (MEP, The Netherlands, Liberal and Democrats for Europe) at a debating day in the European Parliament last week, indicated that she would also be recommend that ship recycling be incorporated into the Commission’s 2006 work programme.  

Contact:Tim Wilkins