In the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, MEPs want a freeze on any new deep sea drilling around the EU, pending a European Commission review into existing safety and liability rules.

A non-legislative resolution on this subject - jointly submitted by Parliament's five largest political groups - was adopted in the Environment Committee with 46 votes in favour, 8 against and 3 abstentions. It will be voted in plenary next week, ahead of an EU Energy Council that is due to address the topic in mid October.

Safety first

MEPs are calling for the EU to learn the lessons of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and ensure that high safety standards are respected wherever there is exploration for oil on the seabed. Given the risks of deep sea drilling and doubts on the possible handling and consequences of such an incident in the EU, the Environment Committee is demanding "a moratorium on all new deep sea oil drilling in EU waters.

Plugging legislative gaps

MEPs want clarity on the EU's capacity to respond to an oil spill, as well as assurances that polluters would be held legally responsible. Victims, such as fishermen, should be properly compensated. Once the Commission has completed its current review of safety rules and liability legislation, it should come forward with proposals to close any gaps it may find, says the draft resolution.

In the chair: Jo Leinen (S&D, DE)