on the joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee 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
on the joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on establishing the fundamental principles governing the investigation of accidents in the maritime transport sector and amending Directives 1999/35/EC and 2002/59/EC
– having regard to the joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee (PE-CONS 3723/2008 – C6-0046/2009),
– having regard to its position at first reading(1) on the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2005)0590),
– having regard to its position at second reading(2) on the Council common position(3),
– having regard to the Commission's opinion on Parliament's amendments to the common position (COM(2008)0827)(4),
– having regard to Article 251(5) of the EC Treaty,
– having regard to Rule 65 of its Rules of Procedure,
– having regard to the report of its delegation to the Conciliation Committee (A6-0101/2009),
1. Approves the joint text;
2. Instructs its President to sign the act with the President of the Council pursuant to Article 254(1) of the EC Treaty;
3. Instructs its Secretary-General to sign the act, once it has been verified that all the procedures have been duly completed, and, in agreement with the Secretary-General of the Council, to have it published in the Official Journal of the European Union;
4. Instructs its President to forward this legislative resolution to the Council and Commission.
The 3rd Maritime Package (also known as Erika III Package) was proposed by the Commission at the end of 2005. This package was the follow-up to the Erika I and II Packages which were put forward in the aftermath of the Erika accident in 1999 off the French Atlantic coast. It also followed Parliament's resolution of 21.4.2004 drafted by the Temporary Committee on improving safety at sea (MARE) which was set-up following the Prestige accident in 2002.
The overall aim of the 3rd Maritime Package is to further reinforce existing EU safety legislation and to transpose major international instruments into Community law. Its seven proposals aim at preventing accidents (by improving the quality of European flags, reviewing the legislation on port state control and vessel traffic monitoring and by improving the rules relating to classification societies) and ensuring an effective response in case of an accident (by developing a harmonised framework for accident investigation, introducing rules on compensation of passengers in case of an accident and by introducing rules on ship-owners' liability coupled with a mandatory insurance scheme).
I.2 This proposal
The proposal for a Directive establishing the fundamental principles governing the investigation of accidents in the maritime transport sector and amending Directives 1999/35/EC and 2002/59/EC was adopted by the Commission on 23.11.2005. Like the other proposals of the 3rd Maritime Package it includes recommendations made by MARE which was in particular concerned with the very slow progress of the investigations following the Prestige accident. The fundamental aim of this proposal is to establish clear and binding guidelines at EU level on how to carry out technical investigations into shipping accidents and to provide feedback to prevent accidents in the future. To this end it includes, for example, provisions on the obligation to carry out technical investigations after accidents, the status and methods of such investigations, reporting, a European database for marine casualties and safety recommendations to serve as a feedback to prevent further accidents.
II. The legislative procedure before conciliation
II.1 The 3rd Maritime Package in 1st and 2nd reading
For Parliament the Maritime Package was always seen as a package and for this reason its individual files were always dealt with together. The 1st reading on the seven proposals took place in March/April 2007. The Council reached political agreements on six of the eight proposals (one file was split in a directive and a regulation) during its meetings of June and November 2007. Two files (on flag states' obligations and civil liability), however, remained blocked because Member States were reluctant to adopt such legislation at EU level. An attempt in April 2008 to de-block the files was unsuccessful.
Member States sought to exert pressure on the Parliament to continue the legislative procedure of the six by transmitting the common positions. Parliament eventually agreed to this approach in order to make progress.
Following the transmission of the common positions in June 2008 Parliament nevertheless continued to put pressure on Council to make progress with the two remaining files (known as the "missing two"). This was done by incorporating the substance of these files into some of the active legislative files of the package via amendments.
In parallel negotiations on the six files in 2nd reading continued unsuccessfully. The fate of the "missing two" as well as difficulties in some files led to a decision not to reach a second reading agreement on any file. In plenary Parliament restored its first reading amendments to all files, as well as the amendments which incorporated the substance of the "missing two". The six files subsequently went to conciliation.
II.2. This proposal in 1st and 2nd reading
In its 1st reading Parliament had adopted 24 amendments covering issues like the differentiation of accident investigations from criminal ones, the non-disclosure of records, the protection of witnesses, the independence and the powers of the investigative body, the involvement of EMSA, the deadline for starting investigations, the avoidance of parallel investigations, comitology, the fair treatment of seafarers and the feedback mechanisms.
The common position included only a few of the EP's amendments, notably on comitology. In addition, it included new elements like the limitation of the scope to very serious accidents and a more flexible methodology obliging Member States only to follow the "principles" of a common methodology.
Like for the other files negotiations took place during 2nd reading. For this file one trialogue took place making some progress on more minor points.
Following the failure of the negotiations Parliament reinstated in 2nd reading on 24.9.2008 most of its amendments from 1st reading and rejected most new elements in the common position, as these tried to change the directive to just an unbinding recommendation.
III.1 The 3rd Maritime Package in conciliation
Following the 2nd reading vote of 24.9.2008 and given the political will to conclude the conciliation under the French Presidency the Parliament's conciliation delegation was constituted very quickly on 7.10.2008, led by Mrs Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou, MEP.
In parallel the pressure applied by Parliament on Council to find agreement on the "missing two" began to yield results. Following an informal Council meeting which discussed the issue in the presence of the TRAN Chair Paolo Costa, political agreements were reached on both files on 9.10.2008.
Parliament and Council held two trialogues (on 4.11. and 2.12.) and one informal meeting on the most difficult dossiers to run up to the conciliation committee on 8.12 which concluded the negotiations. Parliament's delegation met twice (5.11. and 3.12.) in addition to the meetings of the negotiating team which exceptionally included - because of the size of the package - the TRAN coordinators.
Agreement on the last outstanding issues of the most difficult dossier (of Mr. Costa) was reached on 8.12. On that evening Parliament also gave the Presidency letters confirming its willingness to conclude early 2nd reading agreements on the "missing two" thereby allowing the Council to adopt its two common positions at its meeting on 9.12.
At the conciliation committee the Council was represented by Mr. Bussereau, President-in-Office of the Council andSecretary of State for Transport of France. Vice-President Tajani represented the Commission. This demonstrated once more that in the case of very difficult negotiations the involvement of the highest political level and the dynamics of a conciliation evening can make a difference in reaching agreement.
The overall result of conciliation for Parliament is very positive. Not only were the "missing two" concluded in parallel but many improvements were also made to the texts agreed in conciliation. This was mainly due to the solidarity between Members who did not allow any file to be concluded without an overall agreement on all of them.
The special circumstances of the Maritime Package showed, however, that it is not an ideal situation when the same Presidency is responsible for negotiations in 2nd and 3rd reading. In Coreper, it seemed very difficult for the Presidency to convince Member States to make yet another effort since psychologically the negotiations had been going on for too long already. For Parliament on the other side a completely new phase had started with conciliation, yet in Council, with the same Presidency, it was regarded as a continuation of the same phase.
III.2 This proposal in conciliation
Discussions on this file were provisionally concluded after the two trialogues of 4.11. and 2.12. and an informal meeting on 13.11. A lot of progress was also made following new proposals from Coreper and exchanges of compromise proposals from the Commission services and the rapporteur prior to these meetings. The issue of confidentiality of records was solved following an informal consultation of the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) by the rapporteur. His recommendations were accepted both by the Parliament and the Council.
IV. Key points of the agreement reached
During conciliation compromises on most of the outstanding issues were found which considerably strengthen and improve the provisions of the Directive. The key points of the agreement reached are:
·Scope: Following the withdrawal of the amendments seeking to include distress alerts into the scope of the Directive (AMs 3, 7, 8, 10, 14, 17, 20) Parliament managed to convince Council to create an obligation to make a preliminary assessment in all cases of a serious casualty (AMs 9, 13, 14, 18, 28). In case an investigative body decides not to undertake a full safety investigation the reasons for not doing so shall be recorded and a brief description thereof will be included in the European database for marine casualties. The possibility of a simplified report following an investigation of a serious casualty was excluded.
·Methodology for investigating accidents (mainly AM 15): Parliament could convince Council to accept that the work of investigators be based on a common methodology and not only the principles of a common methodology. This was possible following an agreement on when an investigator may depart from the common methodology. It was laid down that this was only possible in a specific case and subject to certain conditions. Parliament further strengthened the common methodology by deleting the provision asking the Commission and Member States to develop guidelines to be used for the implementation of the common methodology.
·Decision on the investigation (mainly AMs 16, 18, 19, 20): Initially Parliament had proposed to avoid parallel investigations by several Member States into the same accident by a decision of the Commission. During the negotiations Parliament accepted that in exceptional and duly justified cases (for example because of the nationality of the victims, the location of the accident or the flag of the ship) parallel investigations could be conducted. Parliament succeeded, however, in strengthening the principle of one investigation and in defining the possibility for parallel investigations in a very restricted way. In addition, Council accepted Parliament's amendment requiring an investigation to start in any event no later than two months after the accident.
·Fair treatment of seafarers (AMs 1, 33): The same texts as agreed in the dossier of M. Sterckx on vessel traffic monitoring were included here. A recital outlines the importance of the fair treatment of seafarers in case of an accident for maritime safety and an article requires Member States to take the relevant provision of the IMO guidelines on this issue into account.
·Protection of witnesses/Confidentiality of records (AMs 12, 22, 23, 25): Following the advice of the EDPS the Article on confidentiality was rewritten. It was clarified that the data protection directive applies (also by including a standard recital to that end) and new wording was introduced to align it to the provisions on data protection and access to documents. This also allowed withdrawing AM 25 on the relations with third countries since any exchange of data with third countries would now be subject to the rules of the data protection directive. Finally, a recital on the protection of witnesses was introduced.
·Others: Mutually acceptable solutions were also found on a number of other amendments like for example reporting and follow-up, the obligation to provide information to investigators and the authority's responsible for the investigations independence.
As the agreement reached goes much further than what was possible at earlier stages of the procedure, the delegation recommends that the Parliament approves the joint text at 3rd reading.
Joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee 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
Date of Council letter on non-approval of Parliament amendments
Conciliation Committee meetings
Date of vote by Parliament delegation
Result of vote
Paolo Costa, Emanuel Jardim Fernandes, Luis de Grandes Pascual, Georg Jarzembowski, Anne E. Jensen, Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou, Rosa Miguélez Ramos, Gilles Savary, Brian Simpson, Dirk Sterckx, Silvia-Adriana Ţicău, Dominique Vlasto, Corien Wortmann-Kool
Inés Ayala Sender, Renate Sommer
Substitute(s) under Rule 178(2) present
Date of agreement in Conciliation Committee
Agreement by exchange of letters
Date on which the co-chairmen established that the joint text had been approved and forwarded it to Parliament and the Council