European Parliament enters second phase of decision making on sulphur content in marine fuel Directive

The European Parliament’s Environment Committee started the second reading of the Sulphur in Fuel Directive on 2 February 2005. This directive will suggest maximum limits for sulphur content in marine fuel. The discussion was a first introduction to the issue for many Members of Parliament who were newly elected and had not followed the issue during its first reading.  

The Green Party’s Rapporteur (who is responsible for drafting the report) Ms. Satu Hassi introduced the Directive and explained that she had some further requests to add to the Council’s Common Position. These main points are:  

  1. The introduction of 0.5% sulphur in fuel limit in Sulphur Emissions Control Areas (SECAs) in a second implementation phase.
  2. The introduction of scrubbers onboard including a limit value on exhaust pollution of 2.0g SO2/kwh or less, which a ship has to be able to demonstrate if asked to.
  3. Ships to use electricity while at berth instead of 0.1% sulphur in fuel.
  4. Vessels which use fuel with 0.5% sulphur content all the time do not need to switch to 0.1% fuel at berth. 

She had also proposed further amendments, which other MEPs seemed to oppose. These included keeping the implementation deadline of the Directive at 2008, and not 2010 as proposed by the Council; also reintroducing a clause requiring that European Union (EU) Member States ensure availability in sufficient quantities of the right type of fuels as required by the Directive to be used in certain areas.  

She insisted that the EU should make more progress on this issue via the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in order to have a broader environmental impact and in order not to damage the EU shipping industry.  

The Commission participated in the discussion and explained that it had accepted the Council’s the deadline of 2010, but that it believed it should introduce an output limit for scrubbing as this would be generally advantageous. Both the Council and Commission had rejected the requirement for 0.5% sulphur in fuel, on the basis that it is premature and should be done via the IMO.  

The Parliament’s full plenary will vote on their report on 13 April.  

Prior to the discussion in the Parliament’s Environment Committee, the Rapporteur and shadow rapporteurs (appointed by the political parties to take the lead and help guide other MEPs in the voting) had organised a seminar on the topic in order to be informed of the industry and environmental NGOs’ point of view.  

Contact: Dragos Rauta