EU Transport Ministers make progress on Third Maritime Safety Package

This week European Union (EU) Transport Ministers met in the Transport Council. Amongst the topics on their agenda were four of the seven proposals that comprise the Third Maritime Safety Package (3.MSP).


At the time of writing the Council is widely expected to reach Political Agreements on the Commission's proposals concerning


  • Port State Control (PSC)
  • Vessel Traffic Monitoring Services (VTMS)
  • Accident Investigation.


Council Political Agreement on these effectively means that the so-called “first reading” (one of two steps in EU decision-making) will have been completed. On these three the next step will therefore be the “second reading” in the European Parliament before the Council finally adopts these proposals - probably next year.

Both on the issues of VTMS and accident investigation EU Ministers might have some issues to resolve at their meeting, particularly concerning how far Member States will be prepared to go in terms of establishing “independent authorities” to determine places of refuge. The port state control issue, on the other hand, seems to be completely agreed and therefore needs no more discussion. 


The fourth 3.MSP proposal on the Council’s agenda was the one concerning the liability of carriers of passengers by sea and inland waterway in the event of accident (Athens Convention). Here the European Commission has given ministers a progress report mainly summarising the European Parliament’s suggested amendments on this topic. Ministers are not expected to reach Political Agreement on this issue before the late autumn.


At that time the Council also expects to reach Political Agreement on the Class directive, a proposal on which Member States experts are about to start their deliberations.


There are still no signs, however, that the Council will start dealing with the remaining and politically most contested 3.MSP proposals, namely the draft legislation on new flag state requirements and third party liability. These issues will probably not be dealt with before late 2008 and final decisions therefore remain in the future.


The big political question now is whether the Parliament and the Council will find a way to effectively split the package so that the relatively undisputed proposals might be adopted next year whereas the remainder would be left to be dealt with some time in the future.


Contact: Kristian R. Fuglesang