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Procedure : 2005/0239(COD)
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Texts tabled :

A6-0086/2007

Debates :

PV 24/04/2007 - 11
CRE 24/04/2007 - 11

Votes :

PV 25/04/2007 - 11.3
CRE 25/04/2007 - 11.3
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P6_TA(2007)0146

Debates
Tuesday, 24 April 2007 - Strasbourg OJ edition

11. Community vessel traffic monitoring - Investigation of accidents - Liability of carriers of passengers by boat in the event of accidents - Port State control - Ship inspection and survey organisations (debate)
PV
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  President. The next item is the joint debate on

– the report (A6-0086/2007) by Mr Sterckx, on behalf of the Committee on Transport and Tourism, on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2002/59/EC establishing a Community vessel traffic monitoring and information system (COM(2005)0589 – C6-0004/2006 – 2005/0239(COD)),

– the report (A6-0079/2007) by Mr Kohlíček, on behalf of the Committee on Transport and Tourism, on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the fundamental principles governing the investigation of accidents in the maritime transport sector and amending Directives 1999/35/EC and 2002/59/EC (COM(2005)0590 – C6-0056/2006 – 2005/0240(COD)),

– the report (A6-0063/2007) by Mr Paolo Costa, on behalf of the Committee on Transport and Tourism, on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the liability of carriers of passengers by sea and inland waterways in the event of accidents (COM(2005)0592 – C6-0057/2006 – 2005/0241(COD)),

– the report (A6-0081/2007) by Mr Vlasto, on behalf of the Committee on Transport and Tourism, on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on port-State control (recast) (COM(2005)0588 – C6-0028/2006 – 2005/0238(COD)), and

– the report (A6-0070/2007) by Mr de Grandes Pascual, on behalf of the Committee on Transport and Tourism, on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on common rules and standards for ship inspection and survey organisations and for the relevant activities of maritime administrations (recast) (COM(2005)0587 – C6-0038/2006 – 2005/0237(COD)).

 
  
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  Karin Roth, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to be back in Strasbourg today to discuss with you the parliamentary business of the next few days.

Before addressing the individual issues, I should like to make four preliminary remarks. The first is that improving maritime safety is a common concern of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission. We have made considerable progress in this direction. I refer, for example, to the improvement in the safety of RoRo vessels in 2002, the early introduction of double hulls in 2003 and the imminent voluntary renunciation by the EU Member States of recourse to internationally authorised exemptions for single-hulled ships. This is all good news.

Secondly, I believe it is also important to refer to employees' working conditions. We have already made significant progress in the implementation of the ILO Maritime Labour Convention of 2006. This is another area where there is broad consensus within the European Parliament and with the representative bodies of management and labour.

My third point refers to protection of the climate. Key tasks await us here, and some of these relate to shipping operations. I hope we shall manage to make good progress on this issue too.

My fourth remark concerns our desire to enhance shipping and ports and the associated activities within the maritime economy. To this end, we adopted an opinion of the Council of Transport Ministers on the Lisbon Strategy on 28 February. Our aim is to make maritime companies more competitive, thereby promoting the European Union as a business location for such operators. This will be a major topic at our conference on the future maritime policy of the EU, to be held in Bremen from 2 to 4 May, and I hope that good proposals will be developed here too, for I know that the European Parliament shares our interest in a European vision for the oceans and seas.

Let me now turn to the seven proposals for the improvement of maritime safety, our topic for today. Shipping is a crucial mode of transport in the global economy. If the sustainability of maritime operations is to be guaranteed, their safety and environmental compatibility must be continually upgraded.

Tomorrow's vote in the European Parliament will enable the Council to make further progress in the decision-making process. The German Presidency of the Council attaches the utmost importance to the present proposals for improvements in ship safety. We have not only continued the discussions that were launched during the Austrian and Finnish Presidencies but have also intensified and indeed accelerated them. In so doing, we are pursuing realistic objectives and focusing on the feasible.

Thanks to the concentration of these efforts into a small number of legislative proposals and the support of the European Council and the European Parliament, we shall be able to take several political decisions for the June meeting of the Council. I shall gladly take this opportunity to report to you on the state of play with regard to the initiatives on maritime safety during the German Presidency of the Council. The proposal for a directive on the Community vessel-traffic monitoring and information system was one of the first proposals to be examined by the Council.

In June 2006, under the Austrian Presidency, agreement was reached on a general line of approach. Since then the competent Council body has examined the amendments adopted by the Committee on Transport and Tourism of the European Parliament and has identified some points – such as the characteristics of the competent authorities and the procedures for providing refuge for vessels in distress – that need further consultation. There is no doubt, however, that both legislative institutions seek to improve the safety of maritime transport and to prevent environmental disasters.

Following tomorrow's adoption of the relevant report, the Council would like to arrive at a political decision in June. Our work on the draft directive on port-State control has progressed well. In December of last year, under the Finnish Presidency, the Council was able to establish its general line of approach, and now the German Presidency, anticipating the adoption of your report, which is highly consistent in many points with the outcome of the Council's deliberations, intends to bring about a political agreement at the June meeting of the Council of Transport Ministers. This agreement should also take account of the outcome of the next meeting of the Port State Control Committee established by the Paris Memorandum of Understanding; the committee is due to meet in Bonn the week after next.

The negotiations on the proposal for a directive on the liability of carriers of passengers by sea and inland waterway are turning out to be rather more difficult. The discussion of this proposal was launched under the Finnish Presidency. The German Presidency has not only continued the deliberations, it has also significantly intensified them. The Council's discussions have shown that there is agreement in principle on the proposal for a regulation. The inclusion of inland waterway transport, however, is rejected.

There are also a few points that still need to be discussed. These relate not only to matters of detail, such as the conditions in which an advance payment is to be made, but also to certain fundamental issues. To what extent should domestic traffic (cabotage) be covered by the regulation? That must be clarified. Last October, the Legal Committee of the IMO adopted the text of a reservation to the 2002 Protocol to the Athens Convention. What are the implications of this reservation for European legislation? That is another unresolved issue. What is the relationship between the proposed regulation and the provisions of the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims and its 1996 Protocol, the ratification of which is envisaged, as you know, in the proposal Parliament is examining for a directive on the civil liability of shipowners? Agreement in the Council depends on the clarification of these details and these fundamental issues.

The proposal for a directive on the investigation of accidents in maritime transport operations has been introduced during our presidency. The discussions so far have shown how much importance the Member States attach to improving the guidelines for the technical investigation of accidents at sea and have demonstrated the desire of the Member States to lay down the relevant Community rules without delay on the basis of the appropriate IMO code and the results of its current revision. In the light of the present deliberations of the Council bodies and the parliamentary report on which you will likewise be voting today, it will be possible to reach a political agreement on this draft directive too at the meeting of the Transport Council in June.

The proposal for a directive on the responsibility of flag States was presented by the Commission to the Council as a working document in November 2006. It emerged clearly then that most of the Member States did not support the proposal. The matter will be assessed by the Council in the light of the opinion delivered by the European Parliament in March 2007, with due regard to the subsidiarity principle.

This means that five legislative proposals on maritime safety have been placed on the agenda of the Council bodies and will be examined by them. The German Presidency is well aware that the European Parliament wants more progress. For this reason, following the meeting of the Council of Transport Ministers on 7 and 8 June, we intend to take the time to open discussions on the proposal for a directive on classification societies. A parliamentary opinion on this proposal is, of course, on the agenda for the present part-session too.

If substantive progress is to be achieved, all interested parties will have to cooperate. Accordingly, I should like to thank you, ladies and gentlemen of the European Parliament, and especially the rapporteurs, for helping to ensure that rapid progress could be made and objectives achieved during this presidency. We shall include the opinion of the European Parliament, in so far as this has not already been done, in the preparations for the meeting of the Council of Transport Ministers and then try to achieve further progress on this proposal too.

Thank you for your attention. I now look forward to the lively discussion to which I have, of course, become accustomed in this House.

 
  
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  Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the Commission. (FR) Madam President, honourable Members of Parliament, I should like to begin by thanking Mrs Roth, who has just shown that the German Presidency is very committed to this problem of maritime safety, and I am extremely grateful to her for that.

In March, I presented to you two of the seven proposals from the third legislative package on maritime safety. The debate and the vote that took place back then clearly demonstrated Parliament’s broad support. I am confident that the same will be true today regarding the five other proposals.

Three of them are part of the preventive section of the package, and I shall start by mentioning the amendment to the Directive on classification societies. By granting Community-wide recognition to these societies, we are indirectly controlling almost 90% of the world’s tonnage. It is therefore vital that the work of these bodies is of a high quality. That is why the Commission has proposed the implementation of an independent body, in charge of certifying quality control systems.

Next, we are introducing a system of gradual and proportional financial penalties. This system is more flexible than the current one, which only provides for the withdrawal of recognition. Thus, it will be easier for the Commission to have any shortcomings corrected.

What is more, the certificates accompanying the equipment installed on board ships should benefit from the mutual recognition of the accredited bodies. Established as it is on the basis of equivalent standards of the highest technical level, this mutual recognition will have two positive effects. It will remove the pointless barriers to free movement within the internal market, and, for the manufacturers of marine equipment, it will reduce the costs associated with the countless number of certification procedures. The savings made can be usefully devoted to research into safety.

Quite apart from the necessary formal exercise of simplifying the directive on port State control, the Commission is seeking to promote a more effective use of resources. On the one hand, we are seeking to replace the target for each individual Member State to control 25% of ships with a Europe-wide collective target. In short, we want to control all ships. On the other hand, we are seeking to carry out more frequent inspections on ships with a high-risk profile. Too many sub-standard ships today are still escaping all controls.

The new system will help prevent this, while rewarding quality ships by making them undergo fewer controls. Sub-standard ships that pass through European waters without calling at a port pose a special risk. That is why we have sought to increase the inspections of anchorages off the coasts.

Finally, the strengthening of the provisions on refusal of access, particularly through the introduction of permanent banning measures, is a powerful measure. It is unacceptable for ships not only to be detained but also to be repeatedly banned. The Union must state very clearly that it will not accept persistent offenders in its waters.

The third text that is going to strengthen our range of preventive measures amends the directive on traffic monitoring. The legal framework applicable to places of refuge needs to be clarified so that decisions are taken more quickly and more effectively when accidents occur at sea. That means being ready to tackle all kinds of situations involving all kinds of ships. The key point in this regard is the independence of the decision-making process, the requirement for speed and, hence, the requirement for a dangerous situation not to turn into an environmental disaster affecting several Member States. It is also a question of consolidating the SafeSeaNet network as a system for exchanging information, throughout Europe, on the monitoring of vessel traffic and the movements of dangerous or polluting cargo.

A final element of the proposal consists in gradually equipping fishing vessels that are more than 15 metres long with automatic identification systems that reduce the risks of collision with merchant vessels. Many tragedies will be prevented in this way. That is all I have to say about the three initial preventive proposals.

The aim of the final two proposals is for the consequences of maritime accidents to be dealt with more effectively. The Commission is proposing to have technical investigations systematically carried out after a maritime accident. We are not talking here about replacing criminal investigations, but about providing the European Union with an effective tool, based on international rules, that will give us a better insight into the causes of accidents. Staying with this subject, the matter of the independence of the investigative bodies is crucial. The idea is also to promote cooperation between authorities, particularly when several Member States are affected by the same accident. The European Maritime Safety Agency, which is already working on a joint methodology for investigating maritime accidents, must help us to implement a framework for permanent Community cooperation.

Finally, the last proposal concerns compensation for accident victims. The idea is to incorporate the provisions of the 2002 Athens Convention on passengers’ rights into Community law, and to extend them to national traffic and to inland navigation. All European passengers will thus be able to benefit from the compensation system introduced by this convention, irrespective of the mode of transport used and the journey made. I would stress this point. What is the explanation for the fact that a passenger travelling between two ports in the same country is not treated the same as another passenger travelling internationally?

So much, ladies and gentlemen, for my introductory remarks. Later on, I shall explain the position adopted by the Commission on the reports by Mrs Vlasto, Mr Strerckx, Mr Kohlíček, Mr Costa and Mr Grandes Pascual. I should like to thank them in advance for the outstanding work that they have done.

I should like to conclude, Madam President, by saying that, if we wish to prevent further oil slicks, we must now be able to make the entire maritime transport chain safer and, in this respect, none of these proposals are pointless. These seven proposals are necessary if we are truly to have an effective system, a system that will really allow Europe to set an example to the world in the area of maritime safety.

 
  
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  Dirk Sterckx (ALDE), rapporteur. (NL) Madam President, President-in-Office of the Council, Commissioner, my apologies for not being here to listen to you, but a conciliation meeting on a railway package is being held simultaneously, for which I am also one of the rapporteurs, and on which I have had a rather difficult discussion with your ambassador, which, I hope, will have a favourable ending.

Turning to maritime safety, how can we avoid problems, and how do we address shipping accidents, incidents and calamities? This is what the entire package that the Commission has submitted is about, and I regard the proposal on monitoring and airports as a key component in this. How can problems be avoided? By better monitoring shipping and by increased awareness of what is happening in our waters. This is why, in this report, we would demand stricter control via the Automatic Identification System (AIS), which may already be in place, but to which we would like to add a few things, including data about the crew, about the ship, but also more detailed data about cargo and fuel. Hence my proposal to include the ship's fuel as one of the items to be reported in AIS, because, after all, the quantities of fuel are sometimes huge and can cause enormous damage.

My second point is about AIS for fishing vessels. We are, in principle, in favour, but one remaining bone of contention is the size requirement of ships for which this equipment is required, a point on which I, as rapporteur, do not see eye to eye with the Committee on Transport and Tourism. I am with the Commission in believing that smaller vessels from 15 metres should also be included, while the Committee on Transport states that vessels should not be included unless they are longer than 24 metres. We will see what tomorrow’s vote brings. An important point is the use of data and confidentiality; we must ensure that data are used in a positive spirit, and that data for AIS are not misused in any way. One chapter and a number of amendments are about long range, the new generation; how do we include this new generation within the scope of the Safe Sea Net, because it is evident that Safe Sea Net must become the new tool for communicating between all Member States and within shipping, so that all data are universally known.

Thirdly, what will happen in case of an accident? Needless to say, we must prepare for such eventualities as well as we can. This is something we did not always do, the shipping disasters involving the Erika and the Prestige being two cases in point. I am pleased that the Commission has adopted a number of points from the report which the temporary committee on improving safety at sea drafted here in Parliament following the disaster with the Prestige. After all, the emphasis should, above all, be on the extent to which the Member States are in a state of readiness. What level of preparation is in place in the event of a problem occurring?

A major bone of contention for the Council was the creation of an independent competent body. Whilst the Commission would like every Member State to have an independent competent body to take decisions when a problem occurs, the Council is less enthusiastic. I can understand that the Council’s brief definition raises a few problems, and that is why we in this House will make it easier for the Member States; in Amendments 31 and 32, we explained exactly what we expect from independent competent bodies of this kind, namely that they save lives, protect the coastline, protect the environment, create safety and protect the economy. In my view, surely everyone should be agreed that this is this body’s task. Secondly, it should be able to take its own decisions. It must also have competency or be able to call on competency quickly. Thirdly, this body must also be able to do a number of things: it must be able to make certain demands of the captain. If necessary, it must be able to deploy rescue teams. It must, if necessary, be able to assess the precise damage itself, because not all ship’s owners or captains are prepared to admit to the extent of the damage. In some cases, they try to bide their time, in which case the competent body must be able to step in. This is the objective of Amendments 31 to 34, which I should like to ask the House to support, because they are essential. I should like to invite the Council to follow this logic too, namely not simply to reject the definition, but to examine its content and to enter into dialogue with us about it. All Member States must have a system that works. If they do not, we are in great danger. The situation at the moment, even after the Monitoring Directive with the document on airports has been laid down, is that a number of Member States still do not have an effective body to manage accidents; they still do not have the necessary plans or necessary means to deal with accidents. This is something we can no longer accept.

Seven reports are interrelated, as the Commission already stated; it is therefore in the Union’s interest that we should build an entire system in a bid to improve maritime safety, and so I would urge the Council to follow Parliament’s lead here.

 
  
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  Jaromír Kohlíček (GUE/NGL), rapporteur. – (CS) Thank you, Madam President. The third maritime package is a series of proposed directives aimed at improving maritime transport safety.

The fundamental objective of the entire package is to increase the responsibility of flag states. This responsibility is laid down under international maritime law, and it includes the task of carrying out technical investigations into all serious maritime incidents. Even if this package did not exist, there would still be a mandatory requirement to work with other participating countries.

The investigation, or rather the failure to investigate, which we witnessed following the Prestige tanker disaster, demonstrated – as was confirmed by the conclusions of the temporary committee on improving safety at sea (MARE) – the need to develop more precise instructions that would make it possible, when incidents occur, to carry out investigations the conclusions of which could be published in real time and used to prevent such incidents occurring again.

The package as whole also contains technical measures aimed at reducing the risk of any kind of incident occurring. Prevention is the key concept here. The technical investigation of incidents should therefore arise in situations where all preventative measures have failed. The findings of an investigation should be used to ensure that the incident in question does not occur again.

The reasons an incident occurred must therefore be investigated. The directive applies to accidents involving the craft defined in Article 2, that is to say fishing vessels under 24m and passenger boats with more than 12 passengers. Given that other parts of the third package also contain a similar definition of applicability, and following discussion with Commission Members and experts, I do not recommend an extension to cover all fishing vessels not under 24m in length, as proposed in Amendment 25, even though I did originally recommend such an extension. The logical limit remains at 15m, as in the previous report.

The overall Commission proposal, supplemented and improved upon by the Amendments adopted in committee and published under numbers 2 to 24, constitutes a good technical directive. Pursuant to the SOLAS and MARPOL agreements and in accordance with Article 2 of the UNCLOS agreement, this proposal will identify who investigates incidents, and will define a decision-making mechanism as well as deadlines for making decisions.

A major problem for some EU Member States remains that of establishing a permanent investigation committee that is genuinely independent. There are such committees operating in the northern countries, but in the Mediterranean countries there is still a problem with the formal independence of such bodies. Only Spain has declared that it will soon establish a similar committee.

A further question arises over whether it is also possible for an independent investigating committee to work with authorisation from another state. I have been questioned about this and my answer is that there is nothing on a formal level to prevent it, and that it is in fact enshrined in Article 7(2) of the proposed directive. Slovenia and other smaller countries have inquired about this possibility.

A fundamental requirement of the directive is that technical investigations are conducted on the understanding that only their conclusions can be made available for other investigations. Similarly important is the requirement to follow the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) guidelines on the fair treatment of seafarers in the event of a maritime accident. We know how the crew was treated in Spain and how badly the entire investigation appears to have been conducted.

The directive and the IMO guidelines certainly do not aim to criminalise the captain and crew. Furthermore, the Member States are charged with ensuring that statements or any other information provided by witnesses are not misused in criminal investigations.

Every three years, the Commission will notify Parliament of the results of implementation and of the measures adopted under this directive. A supervisory role will thereby be implemented by an independent body, in this case the European Parliament, and Parliament will be able to adopt appropriate measures on the basis of proposals from the Commission.

The technical part of the directive, comprising Annexes I and II, includes the format and content for accident investigation reports: Annex I provides a brief synopsis and Annex II a list of the items of information that will form part of every accident report. I believe that this information will form a good basis for assessing the directive, and that the technical measures adopted on the basis of the information collected will lead to a reduction in the number of incidents.

The content of this directive is very similar to the one for investigations into industrial accidents, on which I worked for a number of years, and I feel that it is well written from a technical standpoint. I hope that the overall scheme contained in this directive can be used in the future with regard to other accidents involving transport by ship, for example in the case of maritime transport involving smaller vessels, or when investigating accidents in river transport. Thank you for your attention.

 
  
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  Paolo Costa (ALDE), rapporteur. (IT) Madam President, Mrs Roth, Mr Barrot, ladies and gentlemen, I believe that the European Union is regaining some of the trust of European citizens, partly because it is following a consumer protection strategy with a certain consistency – or at least I hope it is doing so. In our case this means a strategy to protect travellers, namely consumers when they are travelling.

This has already happened in the sphere of civil aviation and I hope that it is also happening in the rail sphere. I believe that the regulation on which I have had the honour to be rapporteur should also be read in this sense. This is a regulation that makes some small but significant steps in harmonising the protection of passengers and their baggage. To that end, it seeks to make compulsory, or at least to extend, the application of the Athens Convention, which already governs this field with regard to the definition of rules and liability, as well as to require anyone that transports people to have compulsory insurance, identifying means of immediate redress in the event of accidents, with prompt and satisfactory compensation.

The regulation under consideration takes a few steps that go further than the Athens Convention. I do not intend to dwell upon technical aspects at the moment, but I would like to stress that the scope of these protective measures is being extended. The Athens Convention was only able to deal with international transport. The Baltic and the Mediterranean are, however, basins in which much of the transport is internal transport. In addition, following the enlargement of the Union to encompass Bulgaria and Romania, the major internal European navigation routes must now be treated in the same way. For this reason I have endorsed and continue to endorse – and I hope that Parliament, the Council and the Commission will do likewise – the extension of passenger protection to internal transport too.

With regard to internal transport, the small amount of resistance that did exist has practically disappeared following the latest accident, which happened in early April with the Sea Diamond near the island of Santorini. It is unimaginable that the two persons who disappeared should not be protected, while they would have been if they had disappeared in the Atlantic or Indian Oceans. It is clear that discrimination of this kind is unacceptable. Since it seems to me that there are still some remaining difficulties in accepting the extension of protection to internal waters, I hope that we will not have to wait for an accident on some river before making the decision to extend cover to internal transport too. It seems clear to me that we cannot conceive of protecting people travelling on a large river vessel in a different way from those travelling on a small ship on the sea, whom we do protect.

In addition, if we consider the technical point that some ships now make both river and maritime voyages, it would be quite ridiculous for them to be covered only at sea and not when sailing on rivers. I therefore believe that the regulation that we are adopting goes doubly in the right direction, in the sense that it also takes into account this aspect of maritime security, thus putting those who travel by sea more at ease.

I would like to point out that persons with reduced mobility are protected more appropriately, that anyone who has an accident is immediately compensated, that there are also limits to carriers’ liability, because if they adopt the Athens Convention they do not have unlimited liability, and so forth. There are thousands of other aspects, but the basic point is the fact that we are treating all European citizens who are travelling in the same way, whether they are travelling internationally or nationally, on internal waterways or outside European waters, when they are covered by European provisions.

In view of this, I hope that we can go forward in this direction, and can thus gain the attention and recognition of European citizens. They can look at this section of the Union’s activities, which continues to provide solutions that are useful and important to all citizens and that can also, in some way, make up for other deficiencies in the more general debate that we are having at the moment.

 
  
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  Dominique Vlasto (PPE-DE), rapporteur. – (FR) Madam President, Mr Barrot, ladies and gentlemen, I shall start by saying that port State control is a key aspect of maritime safety, because it is preventive and it enables us to detect the main anomalies on board ships. Furthermore, this is a very far-reaching control that we, as Europeans, carry out in accordance with our rules, irrespective of the flag of the vessel, and this makes it very reliable.

The directive on which we are working dates back to 2001 and has made it possible to impose an obligation on the Member States to monitor 25% of the vessels calling at their ports. In order to arrive at this figure, the controls are very often carried out on vessels in a good state of repair; for this reason, the inspection is quicker and the State can therefore boast about having met its target. Well, we must ensure that priority is given to inspections carried out on the most dangerous vessels.

This is the new and powerful aspect of the inspection system that I support: monitoring 100% of vessels, according to the risk that they actually pose. I am in fact proposing to adjust the inspections in accordance with the risk profile established for each vessel. Three profiles will have to be adopted: high risk, standard risk and low risk, the outcome being established from parameters defined in the report. These risk profiles will determine the intervals between inspections, which cannot exceed six months for high-risk vessels. The scope of the inspections is given in more detail in the report.

Our aim is simple, but clear: to get rid of waste ships that pollute. To that end, we are proposing more coercive measures aimed at giving greater responsibility to those operating in the maritime transport sector. The text therefore provides for stronger measures, such as refusal of access to ports or anchorages for dangerous vessels, and introduces permanent banning for certain dangerous vessels. I should like us to be clear on this: we want shipping companies to comply with European rules. Today, some shipping companies are still too negligent; that is one of the reasons why we are proposing to establish a blacklist of poorly performing companies, which will be published on the Internet.

I should, however, like to stress that there is broad agreement on all of these proposals, even though the report is far more ambitious than it was at the outset. We have in fact decided, with the support of the European Commission – which I should like to thank for its work – to move up a gear, so that our control system continues to set an example at international level. That is why we must come to terms with the rules adopted within the framework of the Paris Memorandum of Understanding, so as to support the European Union’s position in its negotiations with the other States, and especially with Russia and Canada.

The Council has, by and large, come out in favour of the report, and I should like to thank the successive presidents who have moved this matter forward. However, I can see that there remain two major points on which views differ. The first is the application of this directive to anchorages, especially those located on the high seas. I would insist on this, otherwise I fear that high-risk vessels will avoid ports in favour of anchorages and will therefore escape inspection. The Council is opposed to this because it is worried about the high costs and the difficulties in implementing it. I would ask the question: is not this the price to be paid for more safety at sea? We cannot wait for the next disaster before we accept it!

Secondly, there is the flexibility issue: the Council wants flexibility to carry out the inspections. I consent to having an inspection planned for one port transferred to the following port of call, but I do not want a quantitative threshold for failed inspections to be set. I refuse to see the declared target of a 100% ship inspection not met.

The negotiations will continue, and I am confident about the possibilities of reaching a swift agreement with the Council. As for the rest, the unanimous vote within the Committee on Transport and Tourism highlights our great meeting of minds, which is a reminder that our Parliament has always been very committed to, and united in, defending and developing maritime safety. I am convinced, Madam President, that, with the determination of our Commissioner, Mr Barrot, the support of our Parliament and a consensus on the key points at the Council, we shall succeed in swiftly adopting this new system of port State control.

 
  
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  Luis de Grandes Pascual (PPE-DE), rapporteur. (ES) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I sincerely believe that there are reasons to be satisfied with the results achieved, which are due to the cooperation and consensus that exists in this House with regard to the safety of our seas, such a sensitive issue amongst the citizens.

This is the attitude we need to communicate to the Council, urging it to take the same approach, because we need to learn a lesson. We must act now. We cannot wait for the consensus that always comes after disasters, after we have seen horrendous images of our polluted beaches, after seeing our fishermen’s boats stuck in ports because it is impossible to fish, and after seeing the great suffering of families and regions that live from the sea.

We must treat these seven proposals as one, despite the complexities that may arise, because they are all inter-related; all of the players in the maritime transport chain are involved.

It therefore makes no sense to consider whether any particular one of these proposals is unnecessary or inappropriate. Each and every one of them is essential.

Nevertheless, there is one issue that worries me immensely and I would like to comment on it since it relates to a crucial aspect of the package. I am talking about the independent nature of the bodies and authorities created for the purposes of adopting the best possible decisions within the shortest possible space of time.

In this regard, I am talking specifically about the independent authority that is intended to take the always extremely difficult decision on whether to receive a vessel in distress in a place of refuge. Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to express my disagreement with the, in my view, voluntarist, attitude adopted by the Committee on Transport and Tourism on this issue, which weakens even further the already fragile decision-making structure for places of refuge originally proposed by the European Commission.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is no point in creating an authority that is independent of the influences of the politicians unless it is given the resources and capacities needed to take decisions. Even more serious, however, would be to give it powers if, when it came down to it, it is left with only one choice: to be obliged to accept a vessel even though it lacks insurance and guarantees.

In that case, the entire burden falls to the Member State in question, which furthermore is the victim of the ecological and social damage that may result from accepting a vessel in a place of refuge, as well as having to cover those damages.

We must be realistic and deal with this history that repeats itself over and over again. In Spain, over the last three months, we have suffered two cases of vessels in distress close to our shores and, in both cases, on the basis of a detailed assessment of the emergency situation, the competent authority decided, with a view to minimising risks, not to bring the vessel to our shores.

It is of course a huge relief for the civil population of the area to see the ships moving away, because it is one thing to see your beaches surrounded by expensive motorbikes and the latest perfumes, but it is quite another to see your beaches, your marine environment and wildlife soaked in tar or your fellow citizens affected by toxic gases.

So this authority should be created, but it should be given permanent powers and a vessel in distress should only be accepted if the prior assessment of the situation concludes that that is the best decision and if it reduces the risks.

Having said that, I am grateful for Mr Sterckx's tenacity in the difficult enterprise he has had to tackle. I am particularly pleased with the progress made on ships’ monitoring instruments, which are essential in order to tackle situations of risk.

Before going on to talk about my report, I would like, out of courtesy, to praise the work of Mrs Vlasto and of Mr Kohlícek and of course stress the immense job done by Mr Costa, We hope that that proposal will come to fruition because, now more than ever, after what has happened over recent days with the sinking of the cruise ship in Greek waters, we must increase the protection of passengers’ rights.

I shall finally comment on my report. As you will recall, we have been working on the fourth revision of Directive 94/57. It deals with the crucial role played by what are known as classification societies. Henceforth they will be recognised organisations.

The assessment carried out by the Commission over the last six months has revealed that there remain serious deficiencies in the safety inspection and certification process for the world fleet. It is therefore our duty once again to strengthen the action of these organisations even more and even more effectively.

To this end, the European Commission proposes a series of reforms that I support and that have been strengthened as a result of the dialogue with the Commission and the positive contributions of the parties involved and the members of the Committee on Transport.

Only in that way have we been able to strengthen the supervision mechanisms for recognised organisations through the creation of an assessment committee of an independent nature with permanent powers and which acts autonomously.

Only in that way have we been able to achieve a fairer and more flexible system of penalties, and a more effective one, since it penalises those who do not act as they should, but it does so according to the seriousness of the infringement committed and the economic capacity of the organisation. And only in that way have we been able to make progress on the thorny issue of the recognition of classification certificates, proposing the conditions under which recognised organisations will have to recognise each other mutually, without jeopardising maritime safety and using the strictest rules as a reference. Thank you very much.

 
  
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  Willi Piecyk (PSE), draftsman of the opinion of the Committee on Fisheries. – (DE) Madam President, Madam President-in-Office, ladies and gentlemen, this debate and tomorrow's vote on the five reports on maritime safety conclude the first reading of the Erika III package. I stress this because, as you know, we have already adopted the reports from Marta Vincenzi and Gilles Savary. This is why I must also remind the Council once again that Erika III comprises seven proposals and that we in Parliament are firmly convinced that they form a package, which we therefore want to deal with collectively.

Since I am speaking in more than one capacity – not only on behalf of the Committee on Fisheries but also for my political group – I would like to begin by thanking all the rapporteurs for their work. Like the votes in committee, tomorrow's plenary vote will show that we are addressing all these matters on the basis of a high degree of unanimity. As we have heard, the Council has not exactly been dancing for joy at some of our parliamentary decisions and votes and still has to engage in discussions on a number of points.

How closely the individual proposals are interconnected is illustrated by the Sterckx report. I need hardly say that it would be a good thing if the Member States designated emergency port facilities and places of refuge once and for all. It would also be beneficial if an independent authority in every country determined what should actually happen after a shipwreck, so that such an incident would not trigger the establishment of discussion forums but a decision. In the event of a shipping disaster, it is, of course, inconceivable that the skipper of the rescue craft would ask the captain whether he was insured, and, on being told that the shipowner had not insured the vessel properly, would then refuse to help and return to base. It goes without saying that the rescue crew would have to render assistance. The question about insurance has to be asked as part of the port-State control process. That is also what is envisaged in the Vlasto report, on which we reached agreement.

Where we were not entirely in agreement, as Dirk Sterckx has already mentioned, was the question of which fishing vessels should be equipped with which systems. This is all about maximising safety. I remain convinced that it makes little sense to equip vessels less than 24 metres in length with automatic identification systems and that the same results could certainly be achieved with other shore-based resources. Accident statistics do not tell us much. To be consistent, we would have to include all private craft, not only the small fishing vessels. It may be, however, that another technological solution will emerge in future.

Let me make a few remarks on port-State control, partly on behalf of my honourable colleague Robert Navarro, who cannot be here today. I believe it makes good sense to abandon the rigid principle of checking 25% of vessels. That was probably quite necessary as a first step, but checking 25% in every Member State is less useful than what is now in the offing, namely concentration on high-risk vessels. This means checking all suspect operators, from the black sheep to those in every tone of grey from dark to light. There is little point, however, in checking white sheep. A targeted checking process is undoubtedly the logical approach.

One thing, however, is absolutely crucial, and it has been missing from the Commission's proposals, although we stressed the need for it in both the Sterckx report and the report from the temporary committee on improving safety at sea (the MARE Committee). Everything relating to the human factor – the welfare dimension, in other words good working conditions on board – affects the safety of a ship. As well as a ship being in good technical order, it is certainly essential that the welfare of those on board should be guaranteed. If that is not the case, the general safety of the vessel will be diminished.

As we have repeatedly said in this House, 80% of accidents result from human error. This is why we need more proposals from the Commission that relate to this human factor, including ideas on safety monitoring. Only then can this matter be closed.

 
  
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  Piia-Noora Kauppi (PPE-DE), draftsman of the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs. Madam President, I wish to begin by offering my congratulations to Mr Costa and those Members who have been involved in drafting the important report about liability of carriers.

As the draftswoman of the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs, I should like to draw your attention to a few points. I strongly support the incorporation of the International Maritime Organization’s Athens Protocol of 2002 into Community legislation. It is also vital that the legislation is mentioned in the EU maritime passenger liability regime, including inland waterways, in the event of accidents. I fully agree with our rapporteur that this greatly adds to passenger safety.

As for the question of insurance, it is important to understand that passenger carriers must have the possibility to have insurance that covers the liabilities mentioned in the Athens Protocol. Nevertheless, for small carriers operating in domestic waterways, attention should be given to the cyclical nature of their activities. It is not possible for those small companies to comply with the rules and they should apply only in cases where both parties have agreed that the carrier’s liability is strict.

I should also like to emphasise the importance of mentioning the rare cases of terrorism. As the target of terrorism is usually a government or a political group and not a carrier, it is unreasonable for the carrier to be responsible for damages caused by such acts. I hope this will be made absolutely clear in any further negotiations on the Athens Protocol.

Finally, it is very important that this regulation equates as much as possible to the Protocol and it should be implemented at the same time as the Protocol in the European Union.

 
  
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  Ioannis Kasoulides, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group. Madam President, as shadow rapporteur I would like, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group, to congratulate Mr Sterckx on his excellent report concerning the Community vessel traffic monitoring and information system and express our support for it as it stands.

On the particular issue of designated places of refuge, my comment is that it is correct to have this issue properly regulated all over the Union, as it is easy – and unfortunately it has happened in the past – for Member States to have the tendency to turn away vessels in distress, particularly tankers, out of a fear of the likelihood of disastrous pollution, and yet it has been proven that a major ecological catastrophe can be avoided if a vessel in distress and with limited damage can find refuge in designated places. I am sure that the Member States can rise to this responsibility.

The other important aspect of navigation safety – better interoperability of systems for improved information and communication – is also dealt with in this report.

In the general context of the debate on maritime transport, our Union is well motivated in terms of introducing regulations enhancing the safety of navigation, the protection of the environment – both maritime and of our shores – the protection of consumers and so on, as are dealt with in today’s reports and in some in the past.

What I would also like to see happening, though, at the same time and in parallel, is a concerted effort on the part of the European Union, as a global player this time, to work internationally through the IMO and through other multilateral or bilateral agreements so that similar measures also apply at a global level around the world. This industry operates globally. Our competitors should not be allowed to take advantage of our sensitivities at the expense of the competitiveness of our European commercial fleet.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: MRS MORGANTINI
Vice-President

 
  
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  Emanuel Jardim Fernandes, on behalf of the PSE Group. – (PT) Madam President, Mr President-in-Office of the Council, Mr Barrot, ladies and gentlemen, at a time when we are discussing the Erika 3 package for enhancing safety and are addressing the future European maritime strategy, I should like to begin by pointing out the importance of our seas and oceans as a public resource.

They make an enormous contribution to the geographical dimensions of the EU and its single market and, in turn, to the EU’s influence on the world stage. With the EU’s outermost regions and 320 000 km of coastline, where a third of Europe’s population lives, our seas and oceans have given the EU a larger global maritime area. They also give a boost to maritime transport to and from, and inside, the EU.

As shadow rapporteur for the Socialist Group in the European Parliament on the Costa report on the civil liability of carriers, I should like to congratulate Mr Costa and all of the rapporteurs on their openness and on the good work they have done. I have sought to promote the importance of this report among various interested parties, consulting them and canvassing their opinions. I also sought to strengthen the rights of passengers in the event of an accident or incident by ensuring that they receive appropriate financial compensation in order to alleviate the damage done when the worst happens and, as we all know, the worst does happen sometimes, as evidenced by the Erika and Prestige disasters.

I feel that it is maritime carriers which should bear the greatest liability when it comes to accidents or incidents because it is in them that we put all our trust when the worst happens. Victims should, in my view, obtain swift and fair compensation and, for this reason, I have tabled proposals to this end. Furthermore, I intend to vote against the amendments aimed at removing from the scope of this proposal any rights applicable to inland navigation routes, because tragedies happen there too and inland navigation is a means of transport worth boosting for environmental and economic reasons.

As Mr Barrot pointed out, the safety regulation should apply to all areas of maritime navigation, and hence to inland navigation too. As Mr Costa so rightly put it, would it be acceptable to offer protection to an international route and refuse it when a ship repeatedly enters inland river waters?

The single market cannot be created with legal vacuums in terms of liability or at the cost of fewer rights, in particular when the economic burden for the private sector has been lessened, as the Commission pointed out. The amendments are aimed at enhancing the information provided to passengers in order to make it clearer and more accessible and at delivering appropriate, direct financial support as quickly as possible. In this connection, I also welcome the possibility of the Member States extending the compensation laid down in the convention.

For these reasons, ladies and gentlemen, I urge you to vote in favour of these reports in the form in which they have been presented. If even one victim obtains adequate support as a result of what we are doing here and now, then our efforts will have been worthwhile, and once again Parliament will have shown itself to be the institution that genuinely represents the citizens of Europe.

 
  
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  Josu Ortuondo Larrea, on behalf of the ALDE Group. (ES) Madam President, amongst other things, we are debating the fourth review of the Directive on ship inspection and survey organisations and the relevant activities of maritime administrations on behalf of flag States.

The previous review, which was the third, formed part of the first legislative package intended to put an end to the irresponsible conduct in maritime transport that has led to tragic accidents, such as the one involving the Erika, which had such a serious impact on our environment and on our coasts.

In this new proposal, the European Commission is seriously considering whether the system of classification and inspection as a whole makes sufficient efforts to achieve the required levels of quality.

As rapporteur for the third review, I must respond by saying that sufficient efforts are not really being made. Not only is the maritime sector to blame, however, but also the fact that certain Member States – which are ultimately responsible – and some MEPs, did not want to do more.

I remember how the majority of the amendments that I proposed in my report, in a quest for more requirements and control in inspections, were rejected. At that time I expressed my disappointment and my conviction that that review would not improve things. Unfortunately I was right and we saw the tragic episode of the Prestige accident, which once again called into question the most recent inspection to have been carried out on that ship and its insufficient compliance with the recommendations resulting from that inspection.

We are now once again amending the Directive on the organisations recognised for the carrying out of inspections of ships and, although I do not like the fact that those organisations can form part of the committee responsible for assessment, since that could affect their independence, I must acknowledge that the changes agreed in the Committee on Transport and Tourism substantially and positively improve it. For example, the prohibition of changing the class of ships without the aforementioned organisation passing the information on its inspections on to the new classification organisation, or the States’ monitoring of the recognised organisation and the control of the effectiveness of their inspection standards and rules by the European Commission, and also the mutual recognition of those rules amongst the different recognised organisations in accordance with stricter and more rigorous models.

I trust that all of these amendments will be approved by the plenary of the European Parliament, because they will mean that our seas and our environment face less risk and that will benefit all of us.

I regret that I cannot agree with everything Mr de Grandes Pascual – who is not currently in the Chamber – has said, but I do not share his opinion. I believe that the decision to move the Prestige away from the Galician coast was prejudicial and that the consequences we suffered were worse than they would have been had it been taken to a port of refuge. I would nevertheless like to congratulate Mr de Grandes Pascual on his report, and all of the other Members who have spoken and who have been responsible for this third legislative package.

 
  
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  Roberts Zīle, on behalf of the UEN Group. (LV) Thank you Madam President, Mrs Roth, Mr Barrot, ladies and gentlemen. I would like to thank all the rapporteurs of the Erika 3 package for the significant work they have accomplished. I would like to speak about two aspects in the report by Mrs Vlasto concerning port State control. Firstly, the draft report mentions the idea that inspections should be carried out in anchorages, without properly evaluating how this could actually be done or what it would achieve. If the definition of ‘anchorages’ includes all areas within a port’s jurisdiction, then in the case of the Baltic Sea, for instance, this would mean inspections in the open sea 8 to 10 miles from shore. The result achieved – a small quantity of vessels checked – would not be commensurate with the material resources that would be necessary to implement this directive, nor would it be commensurate with the risks to the safety and security of the inspectors involved in carrying out such inspections.

Moreover, in the climatic conditions of the Baltic States it is in fact not possible to carry out inspections of high quality at sea under such conditions, and so I call on my colleagues to reconsider the proposal allowing Member States themselves to define these anchorages. A second aspect concerns the ‘grey’ list and the ‘black’ list. For example, the percentage of Latvian vessels detained is no greater than in many other countries that are on the ‘white’ list, but Latvia’s vessels are on the ‘grey’ list and according to the procedure in the Paris Memorandum of Understanding their prospects are much worse than those of representatives of countries with large fleets. In turn, this does not encourage vessels to go back under the Latvian flag, which gives rise to something like a vicious circle – our vessels do not emerge from the ‘grey’ list and therefore there is no way in which to encourage the inclusion of Latvia’s list on the ‘white’ list. I therefore urge you to support the idea that within the framework of the Paris Memorandum of Understanding there could be a change in the procedure for carrying out these calculations. Thank you.

 
  
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  Jacky Henin, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. – (FR) Madam President, the transport sector is vital to the development of our societies. Within this sector, maritime transport becomes more powerful each year and could really improve the environmental and economic landscape. However, for thirty years, the number of ships carrying crude oil, heavy fuel oil and chemicals that have sunk off the coasts of the Union has multiplied, with tragic consequences for economic and leisure activities that are associated with the sea, such as fishing, oyster farming, tourism, pleasure boating, and so many others. One ship goes down every three days. 1 600 sailors die at sea each year. More than 6 000 ships officially recorded as dangerous sail on our oceans each day. This is unacceptable!

Taking serious action means forcefully tackling the main cause of a lack of safety at sea. The flags of convenience and tax havens that harbour and protect them, the criminal complicity between the classification societies and the insurance companies – they are responsible for the waste ships, operated by crews who are reduced to near slavery. Given this state of affairs, the inspections carried out in EU ports should focus both on the state of the vessels and on the circumstances of the crew, so as to check that their training, working conditions, pay and state of health are compatible with the safety requirements necessary for navigation.

Commissioner, Madam President-in-Office of the Council, would you board an aircraft that had a crew that was incapable of communicating in a common language, a pilot who had not been paid for three months and a co-pilot who had not had a rest break for six months? Obviously not! Then why accept this for a ship?

There is another important issue: the creation of an independent authority to take over the Member States’ job of managing maritime crisis situations is inept. It would be ineffective, dangerous and non-democratic. The track record of most of the Union’s independent authorities, starting with the work of the ECB, is so disastrous for the people of Europe as a whole that I would not hand over responsibility for maritime safety off the coast of my town, Calais, to a pseudo-independent body, whose sole aim would, as ever, be to protect the financial interests of a few large companies.

My final remark concerns the plan to fit fishing vessels with an anti-collision system – in other words, a cost of EUR 2 000. Could this cost be borne by charterers and, in particular, by charterers of oil tankers?

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. Madam President, the Erika and Prestige disasters are quite rightly referred to in justification for having better and tighter safety regulation in maritime transport. Sadly, these are not the only examples. The Braer oil spill off the Shetland Islands of Scotland is another catastrophic disaster which had long-term devastating effects on that island’s community.

My group has generally supported the Committee on Transport and Tourism reports as they have gone through. In relation to monitoring and information, it is simply common sense to tighten the policy on the accommodation of ships in distress and for Member States to designate an independent competent authority in order to realise this. When speed of action is essential, it is vital that we have clear lines of responsibility in this matter.

I think that Mr Sterckx’s report from the Committee on Transport and Tourism has added constructively to the Commission’s proposals. I welcome Mr Sterckx’s recognition that there are practical and financial aspects in relation to the fishing industry that have to be borne in mind when considering an automatic identification system and the question of confidentiality of information relating thereto. I support the idea of a compensation fund for places of refuge and for ports. This is particularly important if a ship, for example, was poorly insured. We supported the Sterckx report in committee but as a group we have tabled two amendments which I hope will be accepted in the vote. We believe these are based simply on common sense and relate to mapping of environmentally sensitive areas. Surely in assessing a potential place of refuge it is important to identify vulnerable coastal resources as well as the potential impact of oil spills on these resources. While that information can vary seasonally and in many cases is already held for many European waters, it simply has not been collected together centrally and made accessible to decision-makers in order to speed up reaction time in the event of emergencies.

In port state control, while recasting the existing directive, we welcome the new inspection regime, the three types of inspection, the new provisions on refusal of access to EU ports. However, we believe that the report from the Committee on Transport and Tourism, again with common sense in mind, simplifies the structure of the proposal and makes it more coherent. It describes more precisely the future inspection database and strengthens and clarifies the link between Community inspection regimes and the Paris memorandum inspection regime, and for that reason we supported it in committee.

In terms of ship inspection and survey organisations, as others have mentioned, the issue of transparency and independence of organisations is very important. In the monitoring of their activities, surely it is common sense to ensure that the control and monitoring of the activities of inspection organisations are absolutely transparent, fair and strict. We had tabled amendments in committee on the de Grandes Pascual report which called for greater input by the European Maritime Safety Agency. These were not accepted on the basis that the Commission intends, we are told, to propose new regulation on the remit of EMSA. I would welcome an assurance that the Commission does indeed intend to look constructively in that area.

The kind of catastrophes that we have too often witnessed do not just cause short-term environmental damage. They can sometimes totally ruin local industries, from fisheries to aquaculture, as well as having other long-term effects. These need to be borne in mind. Significant progress has been made at EU level in terms of maritime transport safety and we should use the experiences that we have gained from previous maritime packages as a basis to achieve further improvement.

I hope that the Council will accept that Parliament’s reports from the Committee on Transport and Tourism constructively contribute to the process in what we believe is a common-sense way. I hope that our suggestions will be accepted and taken forward.

 
  
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  Graham Booth, on behalf of the IND/DEM Group. Madam President, the UK is one of the few countries that have signed the Athens Protocol, and it therefore has no need for the EU to do this on its behalf. More importantly, the UK’s consent explicitly protected small domestic and inland boats from the onerous compliance costs. Brussels, however, is not satisfied with this and wishes Europe to re-sign. This time it will include those craft least able to afford the regulations.

Moreover, its contention that domestic and inland waterways are essentially the same as international travel may indeed reflect the situation in most of continental Europe, but it does not reflect the reality in the UK. To us, going abroad actually means that: we have to cross water. It is what being an island means.

Mr Costa himself admits that this extension will create an unnecessary burden for operators in this sector. The British Government calls this problematic, but it is simply telling these small businesses, ‘It is bad, but tough luck. We are going to do it anyway!’ It is obvious to me that this report has had no serious impact assessment.

When my office contacted the British Government about whether the regulation would affect cable and chain ferries, such as the Sandbanks Ferry near Poole in my constituency, the answer came back with the casual phrase ‘as far as we know’. Well, they should know! The British Government and this regulation are at odds. One says that it covers seagoing craft, the other that it covers inland waterways.

This Assembly must remember that these are real businesses, real jobs, real people and real families, which could be blighted with all this ill-thought-out and proscriptive legislation. That is simply not good enough. In terms of the security and peace of mind of those who work in this sector, this shows contempt for their interests. Overall, it is apparent that this report is an excessively large hammer that will not just crack the nut but could completely destroy it.

 
  
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  Fernand Le Rachinel, on behalf of the ITS Group. – (FR) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, as the French elected representative of the large Nord-Ouest region, a region with many coastlines, I am naturally affected by issues relating to maritime safety. I therefore fully endorse the Commission initiative to create a mechanism, on the basis of a body of legislative texts, that is designed to protect Europe from the risks of pollution and maritime accidents.

Indeed, in spite of the progress made since the sinking of the ‘Erika’ and the ‘Prestige’ – with, for instance, the compulsory inspections of ships in ports and even the demise of single-hull oil tankers – I believe that the accident prevention system remains inadequate. This sad view is unfortunately shared by professional seafarers’ trade unions, environmental protection associations and even by elected representatives from across the political spectrum.

The main issue at stake is that of flags of convenience; despite the desire of the Commission and Parliament to reform them, there are still too many of them. Nearly 60% of the world fleet still sails under a flag of convenience, which, aside from the advantage of minimal taxation, offers the possibility of increasing the number of intermediaries, so that all liability can be avoided in the event of an accident or disaster. Furthermore, it permits the most lax of attitudes where ship safety and labour law are concerned.

Finally, maritime safety should obviously be based on three responsibilities: that of the flag State, that of the charterer and that of the classification societies, which are responsible for surveying ships. These measures certainly appear in the third package on maritime safety. Let us hope, however, that they are implemented in practice, as this is unfortunately not always the case.

 
  
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  Corien Wortmann-Kool (PPE-DE). – (NL) Madam President, Madam President of the Council, Mr Barrot, I am delighted with the European obligation for independent enquiries into shipping disasters, and the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats gives this initiative its unqualified support, since the aim of such enquiries is to find out the cause of the disaster, so that measures can be taken to prevent similar disasters from happening in future. We already have very good experience of this with disasters involving aircraft. Following the disasters with the oil tankers Erika and Prestige, there was no independent enquiry, and there was the risk of the buck being passed from one region or Member State to another. When a major disaster strikes in our international waters, this inevitably involves various Member States and many parties. This European directive will make it possible for us to get to the bottom of the matter and prevent Member States playing each other at the blame game.

We on the Committee on Transport and Tourism gave a sharper edge to the inquiry’s independence when we stipulated that the information it produces may be used only to improve safety at sea, and on this point my group does not agree with the Commission. Information from the enquiry into the cause of the disaster must not be made available for criminal proceedings in the Member States, because of the considerable risk that those involved would not dare produce important information for fear of criminal prosecution. A strict division between criminal enquiry and the enquiry into the cause of the disaster is therefore vital.

Despite the fact that in addition to amendments on this subject matter, along with amendments to speed up the enquiry, a number of amendments have been tabled that concern details and to which we do not attach particular value, I believe that the report before us is, on the whole, a sound one.

I should also like to make a comment about the directive on passenger rights, which was intended for maritime transport, but which now also covers inland shipping, something that, or so I gather, Commissioner Barrot supports. I cannot understand his position, because a passenger ship that sails on the Danube, the Meuse or the Rhine cannot be compared to an ocean-going vessel. To do so is like comparing a train to a coach: the risk profile is very different. In the framework of the Naiades action programme, you, Commissioner Barrot, committed to harmonising European legislation on inland shipping – the legislation involved is that on the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCR) – and you intend to apply maritime legislation to the next incident. This is going the wrong way. I do hope that you still intend to harmonise, and tighten up, CCR legislation. We have re-tabled the amendments to remove inland shipping from this, and I hope that it does not meet with a majority, or at least not a qualified majority, and that the Council is indulged in this area.

 
  
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  Rosa Miguélez Ramos (PSE). – (ES) Ladies and gentlemen, Madam President-in-Office of the Council, Commissioner, the Prestige disaster in 2002, like the Erika disaster in 1999, marked a turning point in the adoption of Community legislation in the field of maritime safety, and this Parliament can take pride in the role it has played in that regard.

The first point of the third resolution on the Prestige, approved by this House in September 2003, called upon the Conference of Presidents to take a positive view of the request to create a temporary committee intended to study in depth the causes and consequences of the disaster, so that nothing like that would ever happen again.

That temporary committee, which was very difficult to create, proved to be a very positive thing for this House. It enabled us to fulfil our responsibilities with regard to the political control of a disaster of a European nature and carry out the task of promoting a genuine European maritime transport policy, because technical and professional investigation and analysis of accidents and incidents – including maritime disasters – are essential in order to prevent them from happening again.

The Erika and the Prestige revealed the bad state of maritime transport, both from the commercial and trade union points of view and from the point of view of the vessels themselves.

We voted on the Mare Resolution on 21 April 2004. I recall one of the amendments that I presented on behalf of my group calling for a global and consistent European maritime policy which enables us to make maritime transport procedures more transparent, eradicate flags of convenience and improve the training and living and working conditions of crews.

Mr Barrot, you were responsible for drawing up these new proposals that we are finally debating today. It is odd though, Commissioner, that this package has no name. Some people call it Erika III, but this Parliament asked that it be called Prestige, Commissioner, and that is what appears in the resolution adopted.

It is perhaps a rather dubious honour, but it is in line with the idea that interest in implementing stricter legislation is only restored after an accident has taken place.

The fact is that we have two Erika packages but no Prestige package, and I would therefore like to insist that our request be accepted.

I would, however, like to congratulate you on the fact that other requests have been accepted. This package satisfies many of them. It deals with the issue of ports of refuge, the system of ship inspections – which is a crucial aspect of maritime safety – it extends that system to ships in transit – which should be in possession of documentation and guarantees indicating that they will be able to respond in the event of damages or accidents – it clarifies liabilities, strengthens and harmonises the Community system with regard to competent bodies, such as classification societies, and, of course, it improves the system of control.

Finally, Commissioner, something that I still feel is missing: the resources of ships have been reduced by half over the last 30 years. Everybody knows that they are currently insufficient to carry out proper maintenance.

I would therefore ask you for proposals on improving the living and working conditions and training of maritime professionals, increasing respect for the seafaring profession and the training of crews, including training in safety and an increase in social inspections onboard ships.

I would like to end by congratulating you and your team, and also the rapporteurs and the shadow rapporteurs for the work they have done.

 
  
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  Anne E. Jensen (ALDE). – (DA) Mr President, Minister Roth, Commissioner Barrot, if you were to single out one area in which the EU gets results for its citizens, the legislation on maritime safety would be a good example. There is a lot of sound international and global regulation of maritime safety, and we must never forget that shipping is a global industry. The EU has, in recent years, come to occupy a leading position in terms of requirements for effective maritime safety and is well prepared for oil spills and other accidents that cause pollution. This is a development that we can be pleased about, even if it has taken place against a tragic backdrop, namely the great disasters of the losses of the Erika and the Prestige. The third maritime safety package follows up on the legislation passed in the wake of these two disasters.

I would particularly like to highlight the two directives for which I was the rapporteur for my group, namely the directive on port State control and the directive on the investigation of marine accidents. I would like to thank Mrs Vlasto for her excellent and hard work on the directive on port State control. She backs up the principles proposed by the Commission – that is to say that all ships should be monitored, that the bad ships should be monitored even more and, indeed, that we do not want the very worst ships in European waters at all. She also states that port State control should maintain a suitable standard so that there is more uniform monitoring in all EU ports, and she clarifies the role of the pilots in terms of reporting bad ships.

Mrs Vlasto has reworked the Commission’s proposal with the result that what we have is a much clearer division of ships into good ones and bad ones. This, too, is something that she should be highly praised for, as she should for her amenable and compromise-based way of going about the work on this report. The Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe has thus not tabled any amendments to the report from the Committee on Transport and Tourism.

I would also like to thank Mr Kohlíček for his constructive cooperation on the directive on the investigation of accidents. Incident investigations and the communication of their results are, of course, vital in ensuring that accidents are not repeated. We have to learn from the accidents that do take place, and as many people as possible must learn from the experience of others. I have attached importance to ensuring, in keeping with what has been learned in aviation, that there are incentives for all parties involved to provide as open and honest an account of the course of an accident as possible. A witness statement to the investigative inquiry must not be used in direct connection with any charge made, as, of course, in such cases, the accused must be granted proper rights during questioning. It is difficult to balance these interests, and I thank Mr Kohlíček for the positive result achieved. The ALDE Group proposes that fishing vessels of below 24 metres in length also be covered by investigations of the nature proposed, because there is a large number of accidents involving such vessels. However, I can accept the limit being set at fishing vessels below 15 metres if this will further the proposal. I am thus hopeful of the support of my fellow Members.

 
  
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  Sebastiano (Nello) Musumeci (UEN). – (IT) Madam President, Mr Barrot, ladies and gentlemen, I am not saying anything new in stressing that the issue of maritime transport safety in the territorial waters of the European Union is, unfortunately, constantly and sometimes tragically topical.

Only three months ago we had the 45th accident in 50 years in the Strait of Messina, which is one of the busiest areas for Mediterranean maritime transport. The accident, which involved a ferry and a hydrofoil, again resulted in deaths and injuries. This tragedy could perhaps have been avoided if the sophisticated terrestrial radar system, which ought to have been controlling maritime traffic, had been fully functioning.

Today, all that is monitoring traffic in the Strait of Messina is the AIS – the satellite automatic identification system – which is compulsory for vessels with a tonnage of over 300 tonnes.

On this point, the Committee on Fisheries, with the aim of improving the safety of fishermen and their craft – let us remember that many serious maritime accidents are caused by the failure of merchant vessels to see fishing boats – has adopted an amendment in its opinion calling for AIS systems to be mandatory on all new fishing boats.

With regard to existing fishing boats, funding should be provided especially for small boats, since the majority of fishing boats operating in the Mediterranean belong to small operators who are already in serious financial difficulties, having had to make huge sacrifices to comply with fisheries policy with the so-called ‘blue boxes’.

Madam President, Mr Barrot, having faith in the growth of maritime transport means, therefore, guaranteeing the safety of everyone everywhere, both passengers and crew, in internal and external waters, but it also means increasing monitoring and imposing stiffer penalties on those who break the rules. The vote in this Chamber may therefore constitute hard evidence of Europe’s willingness to move in this direction.

 
  
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  Dimitrios Papadimoulis (GUE/NGL).(EL) Madam President, Commissioner, the majority of European citizens calls for stricter measures with regards to sea transport safety and the protection not only of the environment and public health, but also of fishery and tourism. The third package of proposals in the maritime sector constitutes an important positive step.

The 1974 Athens Convention, as amended by the 2002 Protocol, must come into force. To date the relevant protocol has unfortunately been signed by only five Member States and ten ratifications are needed. I would like to make an appeal to all Member States, and especially to my country, Greece. Greece is a world maritime force; therefore, it should not remain inactive, but should be at the forefront of safety at sea.

I support compulsory insurance that covers passengers aboard vessels. Passengers unfortunately are often not familiar with their institutional rights. Therefore public awareness must also be emphasised. At the same time, however, a further analysis of the cost of implementing the regulation is necessary, as is an allocation of costs, in order to avoid a disproportionate increase between tickets and cargos. In island countries, like Greece, this aspect is very important.

I personally, as well as my political group, clearly support the creation of a black list for ship-owners and maritime companies, as well as a grey or black list for flag states. We say ‘yes’ to a more effective control of vessels with stricter inspections. We say ‘yes’ to the adoption of stricter operation regulations and inspections by classification societies. But we say ‘no’ to unaccountable ship-owners and ‘no’ to classification societies that issue unreliable seaworthiness certificates. We say ‘yes’ to the creation of a permanent accidents investigative body and we say ‘yes’ to the establishment of a monitoring system for vessels transportation that will contribute both to accident prevention and to prompt intervention in the event of accidents.

 
  
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  Johannes Blokland (IND/DEM). – (NL) Madam President, I want to focus on the Costa report, which appears to contain two key points. First of all, there is the idea of a liability scheme in the event of terrorist activities, which has been discussed and handled in great detail in the International Maritime Organisation, and is a good example of the right solution being found at the right level.

Which brings me to my second point, namely the scope of the regulation. Since the Athens Convention is intended for sea shipping, I was surprised to see its scope extended to include inland shipping. The major differences between sea shipping and inland shipping do not justify the same liability regime, and neither do the consequences of bringing these into line. It is expected that the increase in liability for transporters in inland shipping will have consequences to the extent that the financial viability of the service will be put in the balance. Given the social importance of water-borne passenger transport in a number of countries, I find this unacceptable. For this reason, my group suggests removing inland shipping from this proposal and instead, to work in tandem with the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine to help improve the liability regime for inland shipping. I am happy with the position adopted by the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats in this area, and I very much hope that the other groups will join them.

 
  
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  Luca Romagnoli (ITS). – (IT) Madam President, Mr Barrot, ladies and gentlemen, maritime safety, which is the subject of five directives that Parliament is being asked to approve, is the subject of a packet of measures that commendably aims to achieve better prevention and more efficient intervention in the event of maritime accidents, as well as management of their environmental impact.

In my view, it is a good thing to incorporate the Athens Convention of 2002 into Community law, thus specifying the liability of carriers and the insurance cover of passengers and their baggage. This gives users fair guarantees and also sets in motion a kind of safety cycle that encourages better monitoring of shipping and equipment as well as safety procedures, precisely because the various maritime transport operators are involved.

With regard in particular to the Sterckx report, I think it is appropriate to develop the European system for the exchange of information and the use of the automatic identification system for fishing boats, provided that there is then concrete support of up to 90% from the EU for equipping fleets with new instrument systems, especially for small operators.

On the other hand, I am not in favour of taking away the Member States’ room for manoeuvre with regard to the management of emergencies and procedures for accommodating ships in distress. I endorse, however, the text of the amendment stating that a State cannot be exonerated from its obligation to provide assistance to a ship in distress. I also back the suggestions by Mrs Vlasto and the Commission regarding further strengthening of the system for inspection of vessels and their risk profiles.

To conclude, I approve of all the measures aiming at a continent-wide policy on the sea and safety as a human, environmental and economic asset, and of all the measures to promote the improvement and harmonisation of the services provided by maritime administrations, as well as the promotion of registration under European Union flags.

 
  
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  Philip Bradbourn (PPE-DE). – Madam President, I should like to refer specifically to the Sterckx report. I would like to address two of the rapporteur’s amendments dealing with restrictions on data access. Although I can sympathise with the intention of the rapporteur in seeking to reduce the risk of commercial misuse of data, I feel that the unintended consequences which will result will outweigh the advantages.

Given the fact that action has already been taken outside of the EU on this issue, this raises serious questions as to why we feel it is necessary to legislate here. I refer to action by Lloyd’s Register in London and its Dutch counterpart to set up a self-regulatory scheme. These discussions have resulted in AIS restructuring, in order to specifically alleviate the concerns raised and benefit legitimate industry as well as government users. Subsequently, all parties who use this AIS data have agreed to use these measures.

My fear is that if the proposals on restricting access to this data are adopted, European ports and companies will be put at a commercial disadvantage. This is due to overseas competititors being able to continue to be supplied with services which make use of the AIS data. Also, as the information which may lead to commercial misuse can easily be obtained from other sources in more detail, why are we only choosing this specific data system?

Finally, these clauses would be unenforceable. AIS data is transmitted using normal high-frequency signals and there are a number of receiving devices on the market which are completely untraceable, meaning that anyone who wishes to misuse the data can still do so. Therefore, I call on the House to think carefully about the content of this report and not to fall into the trap of over-regulation at a time when we are calling for less regulation from the Commission.

 
  
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  Robert Evans (PSE). – Madam President, I welcome the third maritime package. This Parliament has a long history of taking maritime safety extremely seriously. After the Erika and Prestige disasters we have to ensure that nothing of this kind ever happens again and that we are working towards being world leaders at achieving the highest safety standards at sea.

I specifically want to talk about Mr de Grandes Pascual’s report. I welcome this initiative to reform the workings of Europe’s classification societies and to improve the quality of these organisations. The report, I think, makes good progress on reforming the inspections, checking and certification tasks of ships carrying Member States’ flags, but I do have a few issues.

Firstly, Commissioner Barrot, in your opening remarks you spoke of the need for an independent structure for quality control. I do not take issue with you over that, but I believe that this report, as proposed, is contradictory. If it is to be of real value, the new committee proposed, the Assessment Committee, must be independent, not only of the recognised organisations but of the Member States and of the Commission. Yet at the moment, as things stand, the report says that the Commission ‘may require the Assessment Committee to adopt the measures the Commission deems necessary’. It is hardly giving the committee autonomy and independence if the Commission is going to require it to adopt the measures they deem necessary.

So I urge support for my Amendment 73, which, regrettably, Mr de Grandes Pascual says he is not minded to support at the moment. My Amendment 73 will tone that down and give the Commission the power to advise or suggest rather than require, because an independent committee cannot be required to do things, otherwise it completely loses its independence.

Regarding Article 8, I am very supportive of the approach establishing a graduated penalty scheme for the recognised organisations and I feel that there should be no significant changes to the liability regime. Regarding Article 12, I am supportive of penalties for failing recognised organisations and this is a much fairer system than the current decommissioning. This is a more flexible way of working and it will allow for a corrective action to be taken swiftly, should a recognised organisation be failing. I wholly support a maximum penalty of 5%, as against the original 10% figure, and I support the position in Article 20 on the mutual recognition of certificates by recognised organisations.

I think we are making progress here. I hope that the report can go through with my amendment and I will be one of the first to support it.

 
  
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  Marek Aleksander Czarnecki (UEN). – (PL) Mr President, I would like to take this opportunity to express my agreement with and support for incorporating the Athens Convention of the International Maritime Organisation into community legislation.

My position concurs fully with that of the Committee on Legal Affairs on which I sit. I am also in favour of extending liability when carrying passengers within the territory of the European Union, both for marine and road transport. In my view, any events in which passengers suffer are particularly important, which is to say that increasing passenger safety is paramount.

For this reason I believe that before the Athens Conference of the International Maritime Organisation is included in Community legislation, it should focus on the issue of carrier insurance which would meet the obligations set out in the 2002 protocol, and the application of reasonable tariff charges. It would also be worth looking at the possibility of reasonable rates for such insurance for carriers, and the issue of absolving carriers from liability in the case of terrorist events.

And one final point: In my view more attention should be paid to the situation of small operators on inland waterways as regards passenger safety.

 
  
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  Athanasios Pafilis (GUE/NGL).(EL) Madam President, recent events, such as the sinking of the vessel ‘Sea Diamond’ in Santorini, the stranding of ‘Napoli’ off the UK coast, the collision of two vessels in Messina, Italy and others, confirm our view that the safety of human lives at sea is the biggest political and social problem of the maritime industry.

The legislative framework of international treaties and regulations, unfortunately, does not contribute towards the solution of the problem and proves ineffective. The main cause of the problem is the fact that shipping companies as well as public and private bodies controlling seaworthiness and commercial activities of vessels operate based on profit. Therefore they violate safety regulations, having at the same time the political support of the European Union, but also of governments and Member States.

Safety is more of an issue when it comes to vessels flying flags of convenience in second registries. Living and working at sea in undermaintained and desolate vessels has become modern slavery for sea-workers. The view put forward by the Commission, the governments of Member States and ship-owners that the main factor behind sea accidents is the human factor is extremely dangerous. It downplays the importance of vessel conditions, the consequences of inadequate maintenance and increasing years of use. In this way, the responsibilities of ship-owners are downplayed, as well as of all the bodies involved in the issuance of seaworthiness certificates to vessels. The proposed plans with regards to the adoption of multiple duties increase the responsibilities of crews – especially of the captain and the engineer – and pose greater dangers for human lives at sea.

These plans must be refuted at the next general IMO meeting on sea safety next October. Public maritime education must be upgraded, the operational composition of vessel crews must be determined according to essential needs and the reduction of working hours as well as the improvement of working conditions of sea-workers must be promoted. A solution cannot be found on the basis of policies that in the interest of profit sacrifice human lives and the environment and use sea-workers as scapegoats for their crimes.

EU guidelines and regulations of a bureaucratic and technocratic nature cannot essentially protect human lives, the environment and the workers’ rights in an effective manner. We support the requests of the sea-workers movement for the upgrading of maritime education, the improvement of working conditions, the control – with the workers’ participation – over regulations, construction and seaworthiness of vessels and the creation of emergency stations.

 
  
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  Georgios Karatzaferis (IND/DEM).(EL) Madam President, Commissioner, three weeks ago you visited my country, Greece. People working in the maritime sector expected a lot from you. They realised that you were quick to discharge Olympic Airways, but they did not hear what they expected from you, the main person in charge of issues concerning maritime transport.

Three days after your departure, there was a tragic shipwreck 20 metres away from the coast. A cruise ship with approximately 1 300 people onboard sank 20 metres away from the most touristic island of Greece, Santorini. Two French people died. This demonstrates that there is something wrong. The captain said: ‘I bear sole responsibility’. You have to evaluate captains more strictly. We cannot tolerate the current situation and yet no more attention be drawn. Both reports are on the right path but we have to ensure the safety of human lives. In this case, we have an accident in the Aegean and we do not know which is the competent body that will handle the investigation and salvage operation. There is uncertainty flying around. If the European Union cannot determine which waters belong to which country, how can we have an investigation and salvage operation?

Another important issue, of course, Commissioner, is how we are going to ensure jobs for the crews. There is a lack of jobs. We have the largest number of unemployed sailors. How will we ensure a communication line connecting the smaller islands? We have a thousand islands in Greece. Half of them have inhabitants. How will these people remain in contact with the centre? We have thus created a country whose population is treated unequally. All the above must be looked at and be dealt with. If you cannot deal with the above in the current report, you should in a future report of yours.

 
  
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  Luís Queiró (PPE-DE).(PT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, Commissioner, the issue of maritime safety is not only controversial and difficult to resolve, it is also, more importantly, a vital factor in raising ships, container ships, and oil tankers to the level of a safe and reliable form of transport following the accidents and environmental disasters that have taken place. We must not backslide on this principle. This is why I wish to congratulate our rapporteurs on their work and on the efforts they made to find workable solutions in conjunction with the representatives of the organisations affected by the proposals.

The measures we are debating today – both preventative and dealing with the consequences of accidents – along, of course, with the two already adopted in the last part-session are indicative of Parliament’s efforts to guarantee a prompt, consistent response to the issue of maritime safety. We therefore hope that the Commission and, above all, the Council will proceed with the same speed and along the same lines, using the approach put forward in this dossier.

We take this opportunity to congratulate the Council on the plan to take a political decision on this issue in July, as detailed in this House. Measures such as the strengthening of provisions for compensating people and indemnifying them for the loss of their property in the event of maritime accidents, the development and improvement of the system for exchanging data on the transport of dangerous substances, the monitoring of shipping traffic, the exchange of relevant information and the clarification of the nature and scope of safety investigations by permanent impartial bodies will help to establish clearer rules and to strengthen the joint work to be carried out by the various authorities concerned.

Further major initiatives that will help to deliver safer maritime transport with rules that users will find easier to understand and more user-friendly include increasing the frequency of port inspections of ships, with the focus on dangerous ships, and enhancing the monitoring systems of certified bodies by reforming the penalties system and by ensuring that the inspection bodies act independently.

To conclude, by making the law more dynamic and by ensuring closer links with the International Maritime Organisation conventions, we will be able to contribute to greater safety and better maritime transport, without oil slicks, and this will in turn benefit the environment and the people and the goods transported.

 
  
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  Gilles Savary (PSE).(FR) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, it happens that I myself was rapporteur for the first part of this maritime package during the last part-session, in March, since we decided to deliberate on the Vincenzi report on flag States and on my report on civil liability.

I believe that it is very important to reaffirm today that this is indeed a comprehensive package and to send out a message to the Council that it should not act like the Horiaces and the Curiaces. We want to remain very cohesive, and I hope that we shall manage to do so, because this package is made up of a set of extremely important and particularly exemplary texts.

Just the once will not hurt: we are going to deliberate on maritime safety texts cold, that is to say, without having the pressure of disastrous events. I was here, in this Chamber, during the time of the two previous disasters, with the ‘Erika’ and the ‘Prestige’. I was also here for what were, at times, hypocritical questions from the Member States pointing out Europe’s shortcomings: well, what is Europe doing, then? It is Europe’s fault that there is such a lack of foresight, it is Europe’s fault that ships are allowed to sail in such a state, and it is Europe’s fault that there are no guidelines on how to compensate for the ecological disasters that have resulted from this. Well, it will not be the fault of Europe, but of the Member States, that we are getting to the end of the exercise to which we are summoned today. One can see, incidentally, from the first two packages, that, when the Member States are told to ‘go for it’ on legislative issues, well, they are far less enthusiastic and it takes far longer for the texts to be applied.

We therefore have here a legislative package of seven particularly consistent texts, in a European maritime environment that is undoubtedly – it must be said – one of the most fragile and most hazardous in the world. We have a complicated geography and risk areas: the Pas-de-Calais – the increase in traffic in the Pas-de-Calais has caused and continues to cause major accidents – the Baltic and the Oresund, and the Bosporus, without forgetting Gibraltar. Moreover, we are one of the world’s greatest maritime powers, probably the greatest, despite the fact that China is in the process of overtaking us. It is therefore absolutely vital for us to have a powerful body of law, allowing us to protect Europe and to send out a signal to everyone that we have safety requirements and that those requirements are first and foremost preventive.

None of us wants to make charterers pay and to force them to give back ill-gotten gains, but we do want charterers, together with all those operating in the maritime transport sector, to be far more careful and to know that pressure is going to be put on them by insurance companies and by all the partners, so that they are extremely rigorous and take the fewest possible risks. There will always be accidents, but I believe that we will pride ourselves on having done all that we can, whilst remaining within the framework of the international law of the International Maritime Organisation, to create an exemplary European area of maritime law.

 
  
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  Stanisław Jałowiecki (PPE-DE). – (PL) Madam President, I would like to begin by quoting from Joseph Conrad, possibly the greatest mariner in the world, who in ‘The Mirror of the Sea’ wrote: ‘Impenetrable and heartless, the sea has given nothing of itself to the suitors for its precarious favours. As if it were too great, too mighty for common virtues, the ocean has no compassion, no faith, no law, no memory.’

These words were written by Conrad towards the end of the great age of sail, but the sea still is a largely unpredictable element, and as Conrad may have said himself, subject not so much to itself, as to lawlessness. Marine navigation can therefore not be compared with inland navigation, particularly in Europe’s inland waterways, which frequently consist of man-made canals or artificially controlled and tamed rivers.

From this perspective, the Commission’s proposal to equate the liability of those carrying passengers at sea and those carrying them on inland waterways is completely erroneous. It is a good thing that the Committee on Transport and Tourism rejected this proposal. I hope that this is a course we can continue to steer in the voting at the plenary session.

I do not have enough time to enumerate all my other arguments, so I would like just to mention the fact that if we are seriously looking for a way to relieve road transport, which is what we are doing, we cannot put additional burdens on potential alternatives, of which inland navigation is one.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: MR ONESTA
Vice-President

 
  
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  Bogusław Liberadzki (PSE). – (PL) Mr President, the object of Mr Sterckx’s report is to avoid accidents and collisions. In this respect, identifying and analysing near collision events in aviation is important. But the proposal to appoint an independent body to protect safety at sea raises a number of questions. In Poland, for example, we already have marine offices empowered to enforce safety regulations, and already do so. Simply extending their powers of accident investigation may be sufficient, something for which the Baltic Sea states are well equipped. They could also share their experience with the Mediterranean and Black Sea areas. I thank the rapporteur Mr Kohlíček for the depth and flexibility of his report, particularly in light of the fact that he represents a landlocked country.

As regards Paolo Costa’s report, I find it good that we have combined the subject of accidents with liability insurance for marine carriers both at sea and on inland waterways. I am for uniform regulations and the inclusion of all types of carriage, including passengers on inland waterways and marine passengers, in the Athens Protocol. The regulatory package will increase responsibility for greater safety and protecting life and the environment, but it will cost money. The new regulations will therefore need to be implemented consistently. They must be implemented consistently so that all shipowners, ports, and countries will be required to make the same efforts. Any discrepancies in enforcing the regulations will bring about imbalanced internal competition within the European Union.

In conclusion I would like to thank Commissioner Barrot. I support the Commission’s comprehensive and joint 7 submissions on maritime affairs.

 
  
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  Ville Itälä (PPE-DE). – (FI) Mr President, today we are debating an extremely important issue, the safety of navigation. The regulation proposed here to tighten up standards is vital for us to be able to reduce the risk of accidents at sea.

I would like to draw the Commissioner’s attention in particular to the situation in the Baltic Sea. In recent years Russia has significantly increased its consignments of oil transported in the Baltic. Just one accident in this small area of sea could be catastrophic both for the Baltic itself and for the countries that are located on its shores. For that reason it is excellent that legislative proposals have been made, for example, to prohibit the use of single-hull tankers to carry oil, and the Commissioner is to be thanked for that.

The special circumstances of the Baltic Sea, especially the icy conditions in winter, are such that ships need to have special safety features, although, unfortunately, not all flag States would seem to be very interested in safety. We actually need to monitor these sub-standard vessels. I hope that the Commissioner will hold a dialogue with Russia so that Russia too might commit to compliance with these common laws and so that we may reduce the risk of accidents in the Baltic Sea.

I would like to mention one other important matter, which is connected with safety at sea and the Baltic Sea in particular. Many vessels release bilge oil into the sea, and we need strict legislation which applies to all of us for this to stop. Every discharge of bilge oil is its own natural disaster, and the Baltic will not be able to tolerate it if this practice persists.

I think that the legislation which is now to be drafted is just what the public expects of us.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (PSE). – Aş dori să încep prin a felicita raportorii pentru munca efectuată şi, mai ales, Comisia Europeană pentru importanţa acordată transportului maritim. Astăzi, pe căile maritime se realizează 39% din transportul intern de marfă şi 90% din schimburile de marfă dintre Uniunea Europeană şi ţările terţe. Până în 2020 se estimează că, în Uniunea Europeană ,55% din transportul de marfă se va realiza pe mare. De asemenea, 25% din flota maritimă internaţională se află sub pavilionul unui stat membru, iar 40% din navele maritime sunt în proprietatea armatorilor comunitari.

Prin aderarea României şi a Bulgariei, Uniunea Europeană a dobândit la frontiera de est vecinătatea cu Marea Neagră. Astfel, Uniunea Europeană are la nord, la vest, la sud şi la est frontiere maritime. Dezvoltarea transportului naval constituie o prioritate a politicii europene de transport deoarece este mai puţin poluant şi mai ieftin. Reţeaua europeană de transport, programul Marco Polo şi programul Naiades vor permite dezvoltarea transportului naval şi asigurarea transferului de marfă din sistem naval în sistem rutier, feroviar şi vice-versa. Din nefericire există însă şi accidente maritime şi imense pagube provocate de acestea. Tocmai de aceea, cel de al treilea pachet maritim va contribui la adoptarea de norme europene comune care să asigure îmbunătăţirea siguranţei maritime. Măsuri precum monitorizarea traficului şi echiparea navelor cu sisteme de identificare automată care să permită determinarea poziţiei, vitezei şi direcţiei unei nave maritime vor permite salvarea mai multor vieţi şi reducerea pagubelor datorate accidentelor maritime. Accidentele maritime trebuie investigate de către organisme independente şi în aceste investigaţii trebuie făcută o distincţie clară între intenţii criminale şi incidente tehnice. Inspecţia navelor ce intră în porturile maritime europene va determina armatorii şi statele membre să ia măsuri pentru ca navele aflate sub pavilionul lor să îndeplinească condiţiile de securitate maritimă impuse prin convenţiile internaţionale în vigoare. Este important ca pavilioanele statelor membre să nu se afle pe lista neagră a Organizaţiei Maritime Internaţionale. Deşi transportul maritim înregistrează un volum mic de pasageri, este important să fie clar definite răspunderile transportatorilor, despăgubirile pe care aceştia trebuie să le acorde persoanelor în caz de accident, iar pasagerii să-şi cunoască drepturile şi acestea să fie respectate. Dezvoltarea transportului maritim trebuie să se facă cu respectarea mediului şi, în acest context, siguranţa maritimă este esenţială.

Consider, însă, că pentru a creşte siguranţa maritimă trebuie ca şi condiţiile de muncă din acest sector să fie îmbunătăţite. Având în vedere că în Uniunea Europeană există aproximativ 3 000 000 de angajaţi, aştept cu interes viitoarele iniţiative ale Comisiei Europene în acest domeniu. Felicit încă o dată raportorii pentru munca depusă.

 
  
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  Reinhard Rack (PPE-DE).(DE) Mr President, we are having a very good debate today on maritime transport, although it is overrunning somewhat, as usual. I will try to make up some time by confining myself to a single point, which I do consider to be an important one. The Costa report deals with the Commission's proposal for a European Parliament and Council regulation on the liability of carriers of passengers by sea and inland waterways in the event of accidents.

I am anxious to ensure that the instruments which were previously adopted – and rightly so – for deep-sea shipping, namely the Athens Convention and the related legislation, are not extended indiscriminately to internal waterway transport. It has already been said that we may be doing more harm than good here. May I therefore ask you to vote in favour of the amendments we have tabled.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Sifunakis (PSE). (EL) Mr President, Commissioner, with the seven legislative proposals of the Erika III package, and respective reports of the European Parliament, we have made another step, as Europe, towards increasing safety at sea transports, combating sea pollution and fortifying the passengers’ rights in case of a maritime accident.

The proposed measures, such as the reinforcement of ports of refuge, the monitoring of vessels, the investigation of maritime accidents, the strict and parallel control of vessels both from flag states and port states, the increase of inspections and the improvement of classification society standards, as well as the increase of the passengers’ restitution rights, constitute necessary measures towards the prevention of maritime accidents, but also towards dealing with their consequences.

The tragic shipwreck of the cruise ship ‘Sea Diamond’ three weeks ago in Greece, which resulted in the death of two passengers and led to sea pollution, highlighted not only human negligence, but also the incapability of the state authorities to deal with such incidents by taking the vessel to a port of refuge.

I would like to congratulate the European Union and the rapporteurs of the Committee on Transport and Tourism on their work and express a wish that the adoption of the Erika III measures will prevent such incidents in the future.

 
  
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  Karin Roth, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for an interesting debate. It has emerged clearly how much importance we all attach to the adoption of safety rules for maritime transport. The rapporteurs have also re-emphasised the importance of these rules, not only in the context of the recent shipping accident in Greece but also in connection with previous incidents. The question, therefore, is how we can improve preventive measures and take judicious action when accidents occur.

Before dealing with the various specific points, I would like to make it clear to you that I fully understand Parliament's desire to deliberate and perhaps even decide on all of these proposals together. The fact is, however, that there are very wide variations in the speed with which the Council is able to arrive at an agreement on the individual legislative proposals. Perhaps this is another of those areas where we should adopt the pragmatic approach of taking decisions in the Council, with the consent of the European Parliament, on the proposals that are ready for adoption and adopting at a later date the proposals that need further consideration. If we want to advance towards greater safety, acting on the basis of feasibility and pragmatism may be the wisest policy for the Council too.

I intend to focus on a few points, foremost among which is the checking of ships, to which a great deal of attention has been devoted here. Let me say that the Paris Memorandum of Understanding provides for the abandonment of the principle of checking 25% of all vessels in favour of a risk-based approach. This, of course, entails examination and classification of the risks associated with various ships. Your views are therefore very close to the approach envisaged in the Paris Memorandum of Understanding. Particular importance attaches to the fact that the Memorandum of Understanding also includes Russia and Canada. One of the last speakers referred to the Baltic. It is precisely the Baltic connection that makes Russia's support for this declaration of intent so very important.

My second point concerns places of refuge. This issue has also been extensively discussed here. When it comes to defining an independent authority and laying down the procedure for apportioning blame, the aim must surely be to find a pragmatic solution. The question of responsibility will have to be resolved. In general terms, however, there is solid agreement that places of refuge must be available everywhere. The question is only how they should be registered and publicised. This is another matter we shall be able to resolve together, because there are really no differences regarding the substance but only on the question of who regulates what. That will have to be discussed with the Member States.

Another question is how we can guarantee an independent institution and thus an independent investigation of accidents at sea. Here too, I have no doubt that we shall make progress during our presidency. It is prudent and necessary that an independent decision be taken regarding the investigation and the differentiated publication of its findings.

It has been pointed out – and I strongly endorse this analysis – that safety at sea is not only a matter of technical standards – of monitoring and information systems – but also of the quality of the work performed on board ships. That is why I stressed at the start of my introductory speech that we attach particular importance to the Maritime Labour Convention of the ILO. The implementation of that labour convention is an important form of quality assurance on board, not just because it requires crew members to have a certain level of qualification but also because the quality of the work performed by a ship's crew guarantees safety on board. This is another important aspect of safety which is not covered in this package but which features in other instruments and thereby supplements this package. For this reason I am particularly pleased that we are achieving progress in connection with this Maritime Labour Convention in the individual Member States of the European Union with a view to guaranteeing the rapid implementation of the ILO's minimum standards, which apply worldwide and are therefore applicable to ships entering European ports.

All in all, this has been a very important debate. You will decide in the next few days on the various proposals and we shall see how much scope there is for convergence of our positions. I hope that we shall soon be able to deal with this package as well as with the other proposals that are not yet on the Council agenda. I do believe we are all anxious to signal our commitment to safety at sea before the end of the German presidency in June.

 
  
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  Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the Commission. (FR) Mr President, I should like to thank all the Members of this Parliament, and also to congratulate and thank Mrs Roth, as this was a very rich debate. I trust you will forgive me if I do not respond to all the speakers, but we have taken a lot of notes and I am grateful to all of you.

I will start, Mr President, with port State control, and I would like to thank Mrs Vlasto for her work. She has set out to bring you round to the principle of a Community objective of an inspection scheme for all vessels, with the frequency depending on the risks posed. I am delighted at the level of support for other elements of the Commission's proposal, in particular for inspection of vessels at anchorages and for strengthening the banning rules. I would also like to take this opportunity to clarify that port State control allows us to verify that certain ILO conventions are being implemented, notably those relating to working time, and I am very pleased that Mrs Roth mentioned this point.

Returning again to port State control, you have proposed that, from now on, we take account of the technical work carried out within the framework of the Paris memorandum of understanding in specifying how the new system should be implemented. The Commission agrees wholeheartedly with Parliament on this point and can accept fully, or at least in principle, a large majority of the amendments, which will improve the clarity of the text that we proposed.

In Amendment 17, however, you propose inserting a definition of 'ports', and why not indeed, but in that case it needs to be linked properly to the definition of anchorages and Article 3(1), on the scope of the directive, needs to specify that inspections at anchorages will target the highest-risk vessels.

The only point on which we disagree with you on this text on port State control relates to Articles 34, 36 and 37, in which you have not provided any room for flexibility with regard to the conducting of inspections, a flexibility which the current directive does include. I understand Parliament's concern to develop a very strict framework for the conducting of inspections, but a certain amount of flexibility is vital if the new inspection system is to work properly. I am therefore pleased that Amendment 115 introduces greater flexibility for inspections at anchorages. In addition, though this is a more technical point, I stand by the opinion that stricter inspections should apply to vessels more than 12 years old, rather than 15 as proposed in Amendment 107. So much, then, for the first text on port State control.

I would now like, while Mr Sterckx is here, to thank him very much for his support and to discuss the proposal for an amendment to the Directive on vessel traffic monitoring, with particular regard to issues relating to places of refuge. I would also like to point out in this regard that, when we talk about an independent authority for places of refuge, we are not talking about a Community body. It is up to the Member States to establish these bodies at national level; for us, the important thing is that they be independent.

In Amendments 31, 32 and 33, you have put forward a slightly different presentation of two vital principles. First, with regard to the principle that ships in distress should be admitted to a place of refuge, it is possible to refuse entry, but it must remain an exceptional case, based on an objective assessment of the situation according to the elements included in the emergency plan drawn up beforehand. Secondly, the decision must be taken by an independent authority, not subject to political or economic pressures. I can accept this presentation, which is an improvement on our initial proposal. In contrast, I am not in favour of Amendments 55 and 56 with regard to the drawing up of marine environmental and human resources index maps, because the Commission has already proposed that a description of the environmental and social factors should be one of the elements making up a 'places of refuge' plan.

The Commission can also accept, in some cases subject to editorial amendments, a number of additions that it regards as very valuable. For example, Amendment 41 on full compensation for economic loss, Amendments 64 and 65 on the vital role of SafeSeaNet, which must be operational 24 hours a day, Amendments 13, 14, 20, 24 and 41 on the establishment of a European centre to handle long-distance messages transmitted by ships for maritime safety and security purposes, and Amendments 62 and 63 on the notification of bunker oil.

You also have my full support for Amendment 66, which aims to provide protection against the risk of abuse in the transmission of navigation data and undoubtedly constitutes an improvement over the previous wording of this amendment. Finally, concerning comitology, and in response to Amendments 58, 59, 60 and 61, I can tell you that the Commission will, if necessary, work to bring its proposals into line to take account of the new regulatory procedure with scrutiny.

In spite of everything, there is still one thing that I cannot accept. The Commission proposed that fishing vessels that are more than 15 metres long should be fitted with automatic identification systems – AISs – that reduce the risks of collision. By limiting this requirement to fishing vessels more than 24 metres long, we are, I fear, emptying this provision of most of its power, and I would like to stress this to Parliament, because we think that safeguarding human life is absolutely vital. There are currently accidents involving vessels less than 24 metres long, and it would be a shame not to make use of this opportunity.

So, Mr Sterckx, thank you once again. That is what I have to say on the proposal for which you were the rapporteur.

I now come to the proposal dealt with by Mr Kohlíček, on the investigation of accidents. Here too, I can tell that we have Parliament's full support, and I am prepared to accept a number of amendments that clarify or improve the text. For example, Amendment 12 setting a fixed deadline for the start of the investigation. With regard to the scope, the effect of Amendment 25, which aims to remove any limit for fishing vessels, would be to increase the associated administrative burden considerably, and the Commission cannot accept that. I also have some problems with Amendments 1 and 14, which, whilst putting the emphasis on the resources of the investigative bodies, removes their permanent nature and weakens the provisions relating to their independence, even though this is a vital guarantee for the quality of the investigations. In contrast, I agree fully with Amendment 26.

Amendments 5, 9, 15 and 16 also demonstrate the desire to ensure an even clearer separation between technical investigations and legal investigations, particularly criminal ones. Mrs Wortmann-Kool emphasised this point. The Commission recognises the need to minimise interference between the two types of procedure, but in this regard we need to take account of the varying legal traditions of the Member States. I would therefore propose to Parliament that we maintain a balance by affirming the principle that the two types of investigation must be conducted independently of one another, whilst still retaining, where appropriate, the judge's prerogatives.

Finally, the issue arises of how to integrate the IMO's guidelines on the fair treatment of seafarers, which were adopted in 2006, into the proposal for a directive – I am referring here to Amendment 22. The Commission is, of course, sensitive to this issue, but these guidelines go far beyond the scope of the investigations, and we need to be careful with any references introduced into the text.

I will now turn to the proposal on compensation for accident victims. I am grateful to Mr Costa for his wholehearted support for the Commission's proposal. I am delighted that the Committee on Transport and Tourism followed the rapporteur's approach, and I am now counting on the support of the whole of Parliament.

I am in favour of Amendment 8: its addition of a new regulation excluding competing conventions that could reduce the compensation paid to victims and result in disparate systems coexisting within the EU is very valuable.

I also support Amendments 13, 14 and 15, which provide for the regulation to enter into force in stages in order to take account of the adaptation difficulties faced by the various sectors, such as regular ferry lines and inland waterway transport. This is a pragmatic and absolutely reasonable solution.

The aim of Amendments 16 and 27 is to exclude inland waterway navigation from the scope of the regulation completely. Were we to do this, the law would remain a patchwork of national regulations, most of which are unsuitable and offer no real protection to victims of a sinking. I will also respond on this matter, because I have noticed that Parliament is very hesitant about extending the scope to cover inland waterway transport.

Accidents on inland waterways are, fortunately, rare, but they do happen: the Marchioness disaster on the Thames in 1989 caused 50 deaths, and the sinking of the Oca on Lake Banyoles in Spain in 1999 resulted in 20 deaths, most of them elderly people. Of course, some such incidents could be covered by the CLNI, the Convention on the limitation of liability in inland navigation, but do not forget that this convention currently only covers the Rhine and the Moselle, and does not relate to the other lakes and rivers in Europe. I would also emphasise, ladies and gentlemen, the liability limits, which are very low and have very limited prospects of increase. There is no strict liability scheme in the event of accidents, no compulsory insurance and no direct action from the insurers, and that means that I can say, having looked into this very carefully, that inland waterways must remain within the scope of this new system of compensation for accident victims.

In my view, it is also hard to justify Amendment 9, which aims to limit advance payment to cases in which the carrier has strict liability, in other words to navigation incidents such as sinkings and not to hotel-type incidents such as a passenger slipping on deck. Those are my comments on Mr Costa's report on compensation for accident victims.

I apologise, Mr President, for going on so long, but I have to be precise, because Parliament's work has been consistent. It is therefore logical that the Commission should put forward its point of view clearly. That is a precondition for good dialogue between Parliament and the Commission, under the watchful eye of the Presidency, to whom I am grateful for the close attention they have paid since the beginning of the debate.

I will now turn to Mr de Grandes Pascual's report on the proposal regarding classification societies. It has to be said, Mr de Grandes Pascual, that the majority of the amendments make the text clearer and provide effective additions to it, whether with regard to ultimately assessing the operation of the mutual recognition system for classification certificates or with regard to drawing possible conclusions from this from the legislative point of view – I am referring here to Amendment 53.

As I have said, one essential aspect of the proposal relates to the quality management system for classification societies authorised to operate within the Community. Parliament wants the body that will certify this system to be set up by the Member States and the recognised organisations: Amendments 58 and 74. Whilst the Commission can accept these amendments in principle, it feels that the involvement of the Member States will require the use of a comitology procedure, as this provides a clear and precise legal path. In addition, Amendment 73 would weaken the Commission's ability to assess and correct the operation of this body, and we must therefore reject it.

In more general terms, concerning comitology, and in response to Amendments 11 and 36, I can tell you that the Commission will, if necessary, work to bring its proposals into line to take account of the new regulatory procedure with scrutiny.

Finally, I must raise our serious doubts regarding certain amendments on the civil liability system for recognised organisations, namely Amendments 28, 30 and 31. In the report that the Commission presented to you and to the Council, we showed that it would be premature to start reforming this system at this stage. We must be cautious, and avoid diving headlong into reforms that would risk making victims even more vulnerable.

I am thinking in particular of the trap of automatically extending to recognised organisations the protections and immunities enjoyed by the flag State on whose behalf they work. To be honest, I think there needs to be a difference between the flag State and the recognised classification organisation and that if, in one case, immunity could be compromised, in the other it is highly questionable. We would be disregarding the fact that these organisations also work for the shipbuilders, in a strictly private relationship, and that this kind of immunity from legal process, this kind of protection, would be absolutely exorbitant.

That, in essence, is what I have to say on the amendments as a whole. Mr President, a complete list of the amendments and of the Commission position will be passed on to you and to the secretariat of Parliament(1).

I would like to conclude by once again thanking Parliament. As one of you said, Europe needs to be a world leader in safety standards. This is an excellent expression. It was Mr Evans who used it, and I am grateful to him. It was also pointed out just now that this was a coherent package and that the European maritime space was particularly fragile, with a number of straits, to the Baltic and Black Seas, and that this necessitates a sufficiently strong legal framework.

It is not a question, once again, of criminalisation at any cost, but of prevention: that is what is important to us. I am also convinced that the European arsenal, or rather the arsenals of our Member States, will come out on top in global competition thanks to the improvement in quality. I am absolutely convinced of that: there is no inherent contradiction between the quest for higher quality in the national arsenals of Europe and their competitiveness in the global market.

That, Mr President, is all I have to say. I am grateful to Parliament for the quality of this debate and for the work it has done.

 
  
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  President. – The joint debate is closed.

The vote will take place tomorrow, at 11.30 a.m.

Annex – Commission position

Costa report (A6-0063/2007)

The Commission can accept Amendments 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15.

The Commission can accept Amendment 1 in part.

The Commission cannot accept Amendments 4, 9, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27.

De Grandes Pascual report (A6-0070/2007)

The Commission can accept Amendments 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 18, 22, 25, 29, 32, 34, 35, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 59, 60, 61, 63, 66, 68, 70 and 72.

The Commission can accept Amendments 11, 36 and 69 in principle.

The Commission can accept Amendments 1, 4, 8, 16, 26, 45, 58, 62, 64, 65, 71 and 74 in part.

The Commission cannot accept Amendments 14, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 27, 28, 30, 31, 33, 46, 47, 48, 49, 57, 67, 73 and 75.

Kohliček report (A6-0079/2007)

The Commission can accept Amendments 3, 4, 11, 12, 15, 17, 21, 24 and 26.

The Commission can accept Amendments 5, 8, 9, 10 and 22 in principle.

The Commission can accept Amendments 7 and 20 in part.

The Commission cannot accept Amendments 1, 2, 6, 13, 14, 16, 18, 19, 23 and 25.

Sterckx report (A6-0086/2007)

The Commission can accept Amendments 5, 8, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 20, 22, 24, 25, 27, 30, 31, 33, 34, 36, 38, 39, 40, 42, 62, 63, 64, 65 and 66.

The Commission can accept Amendments 1, 4, 7, 9, 10, 16, 19, 26, 28, 29, 32, 35, 37, 41, 43, 48, 58, 59, 60 and 61 in principle.

The Commission can accept Amendments 15 and 49 in part.

The Commission cannot accept Amendments 2, 3, 6, 11, 21, 23, 44, 45, 46, 47, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56 and 57.

Vlasto report (A6-0081/2007)

The Commission can accept Amendments 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 32, 33, 38, 47, 52, 53, 55, 59, 60, 62, 64, 65, 66, 67, 72, 74, 76, 78, 79, 80, 81, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 90, 94, 95, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 104, 105, 106, 108, 113 and 115.

The Commission can accept Amendments 2, 9, 13, 17, 25, 30, 39, 41, 43, 44, 45, 48, 49, 50, 51, 54, 57, 58, 61, 63, 69, 75, 77, 88, 89, 92, 103, 110 and 114 in principle.

The Commission can accept Amendments 6, 10, 12, 21, 26, 29, 31, 34, 35, 36, 37, 40, 42, 46, 56, 68, 70, 71, 93, 96, 107,109, 111 and 116 in part.

The Commission cannot accept Amendments 11, 73, 82 and 91.

Written statements (Rule 142)

 
  
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  John Attard-Montalto (PSE), in writing. – No ship in distress should be refused entry to port or safe mooring. First of all because even one human life is too precious and secondly this is the only way to limit environmental and ecological disasters. Thirdly, the accommodation of the ship in distress may give rise to serious damage and costs for the port in question. A compensation scheme has to be devised for ports and places of refuge. Although a possibility for compensation may exist through the proposal for a directive on civil liability and financial guarantees of ship-owners, port authorities may be reluctant to accept ships in distress in the instance of poorly insured ships and even so cover would not extend to compensation for economic loss suffered by the port.

That is why a compensation scheme is so important. More so, it would encourage the decision-makers at the port authority not to procrastinate and immediately admit ships in distress without the hassle and time-wasting of checking on the validity of insurance and financial instruments in such emergency scenarios.

 
  
  

(The sitting was suspended at 5.40 p.m. and resumed for Question Time at 6 p.m.)

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: MR DOS SANTOS
Vice-President

 
  

(1)Commission's position on the amendments: see Annex

Last updated: 6 July 2007Legal notice