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Procedure : 2010/2873(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B7-0540/2010

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Debates :

PV 06/10/2010 - 11
CRE 06/10/2010 - 11

Votes :

PV 07/10/2010 - 9.5
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :


Texts adopted
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Thursday, 7 October 2010 - Brussels Final edition
EU action on oil exploration and extraction in Europe

European Parliament resolution of 7 October 2010 on EU action on oil exploration and extraction in Europe

The European Parliament ,

–  having regard to Article 11 and Article 191 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity,

–  having regard to the Natura 2000 network established by Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (the Habitats Directive)(1) and to Directive 2008/56/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 establishing a framework for community action in the field of marine environmental policy (the Marine Strategy Framework Directive)(2) , as the primary means of protection of European marine biodiversity,

–  having regard to the targets and requirements for achieving favourable and good environmental status in European coastal and marine waters, as set out in Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy (the Water Framework Directive)(3) and in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive,

–  having regard to the EU Biodiversity Action Plan(4) ,

–  having regard to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico,

–  having regard to the oil drilling rigs in EU waters,

–  having regard to the questions of 7 September 2010 to the Council and to the Commission on the implications of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill for the EU and on EU action on oil extraction and exploration in the EU (O-0122/2010 – B7-0470/2010, O-0123/2010 – B7-0551/2010),

–  having regard to Rules 115(5) and 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas in the light of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico it is imperative for the EU and its Member States urgently to examine all aspects of oil extraction and exploration in the European Union and to take all necessary steps thereafter to ensure that such an environmental catastrophe will not occur in EU waters,

B.  whereas the highest levels of precaution, environmental protection and safety and security of oil operations in Europe are the principles of paramount importance which must underpin all EU action in this area,

C.  whereas the majority of oil drilling and exploration takes place in the waters of the North Sea,

D.  whereas EU waters also border countries that are not part of the European Union, for which EU law does not require compliance with the relevant provisions governing liability and the remedying of damage,

E.  whereas efforts are underway to extend oil drilling and exploration into deeper and more remote parts of the sea, which involve greater risks in terms of managing and monitoring operations,

1.  Expresses its solidarity with the victims of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster and calls for technical advice and support to be provided by the EU in response to this disaster;

2.  Recognises the significant contribution that offshore oil and gas production in Europe can continue to make to security of supply in the EU, as well as the good safety record of the industry in Europe;

3.  Recognises the urgent need to adopt a common European, cross-border oil spill prevention and response system;

4.  Urges the Commission to submit a report at the end of the year assessing the level of environmental pollution and the biological state of the Gulf of Mexico;

5.  Calls on the Commission to follow closely the results of the investigations by the US authorities into the human, natural and technological factors which led to the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, so as to draw all the conclusions necessary to prevent the occurrence of such events on offshore oil platforms in EU maritime and coastal waters;

6.  Calls on the Commission to develop rigorous EU-wide accident prevention policies for oil platforms, and to extend the scope of the SEVESO II Directive(5) to oil rigs;

7.  Calls on the Commission in particular to review the EU's capacity for immediate response to accidents involving offshore installations and to develop a European action plan in cooperation with Member States; notes that special attention must be given to the Arctic zone, due to its fragility and its importance in mitigating climate change; moreover notes that the Mediterranean, Baltic and North Sea area has to be taken into consideration;

8.  Welcomes the Commission's ‘stress test’ on oil drillings in EU waters; calls on it to identify any gaps and weaknesses in the regulatory framework at EU level and to make its analysis available to Parliament as early as possible;

9.  Calls on the Commission in particular to review the current legislation under which the holders of offshore oil exploitation licences can lease installations to third parties, in order to ensure that liability for damage to human life and the environment caused by accidents and disasters on offshore oil platforms may be more easily established in subsequent civil litigation;

10.  Urges the Commission, following its review of the regulatory framework, to present to Parliament as early as possible any legislative proposals it deems necessary to address identified loopholes – for example in the Environmental Liability Directive(6) , the SEVESO II Directive and other European legislation – in the regulatory regime applicable to oil extraction and exploration and other forms of seabed exploitation in the EU;

11.  Considers that the current environmental liability legislation contains several important gaps and calls therefore on the Commission to consider revising the content and extending the scope of current EU legislation (including the Environmental Liability Directive, the SEVESO II Directive and the measures comprising the Erika and Third Maritime Safety Packages) and/or introducing any necessary new legislation to take into account all risks of off-shore exploitation and strengthen the rules governing liability in the event of oil accidents;

12.  Notes the absence of a compensation fund in the case of oil disasters and calls on the Commission to include compulsory financial security provisions under the Environmental Liability Directive;

13.  Urges the Commission to lower the damage threshold under the Environmental Liability Directive and to include damages caused to marine waters within its scope;

14.  Calls on the Commission, in its current review of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive(7) , to ensure that all seabed activities are subjected to a mandatory assessment, that the quality of EIAs is guaranteed and that hyper-hazardous activities such as seabed drilling are not permitted to proceed where an EIA indicates that risks cannot be satisfactorily mitigated;

15.  Considers furthermore that any legislative proposals must ensure a comprehensive legal framework which:

   prevents as far as possible potentially hazardous seabed activities from causing damage to the marine and coastal environments;
   guarantees that full liability rests with the polluter in relation to any damage caused by such activities, including damage to the terrestrial and marine environments and to the global climate;
   secures the protection of European biodiversity in marine and coastal environments;
   ensures that, before any economic activity is planned, independent experts conduct an environmental impact assessment;

16.  Calls on the Commission to bring forward legislation to ensure that uniformly high safety standards apply across all EU oil platforms and drilling operations by EU and third countries, from the Atlantic Margin to the Black Sea; calls on the Commission and the Member States to work with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), to strengthen international safety and control rules and standards;

17.  Urges the Commission to investigate the establishment of an effective system of surveillance to ‘control the controllers’, and calls for the early strengthening of inspection methods and minimum compulsory EU safety rules;

18.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that all provisions of the Environmental Impact Assessment, Strategic Environmental Assessment(8) and Habitats Directives relating to the environmental impact assessment of oil platforms are applied uniformly across the Member States;

19.  Considers that the mandate of the European Agency for Maritime Safety (EMSA) should be extended from vessels to offshore installations; calls for the conferral of any such new tasks to be reflected in the EMSA's budget and staff numbers;

20.  Calls on the Commission to publish an annual report prepared in cooperation with Member State authorities and independent experts, that should assess the technical safety and security of installations and offshore oil platforms operating in EU maritime and coastal waters;

21.  Believes that it is of the utmost importance that the Commission examine all financial and liability questions associated with offshore exploration in the EU with a view, if necessary, to the introduction of compulsory EU-wide insurance or other appropriate instruments, for example the establishment of a special European fund to be maintained by mandatory contributions from operators of offshore installations; considers that any such instrument must take full account of the responsibility of such operators, ensure that operators have sufficient insurance or other financial guarantees in place to secure restoration and compensation in relation to environmental damage caused, and provide for additional financial guarantees, for example in the form of funds, for restoration and compensation where operators' financial guarantees are not sufficient;

22.  Urges the Commission in particular to consider compulsory EU-wide insurance schemes designed to compensate affected businesses in the event of a spill;

23.  Urges the Commission to examine the decommissioning of existing drilling infrastructure, taking due account of existing international and national regulations in this area, and to clarify, if necessary by way of legislation, the responsibility of operators for ensuring safe removal and liability for any environmental damage resulting from the decommissioning of offshore infrastructure and any environmental damage arising from an offshore installation or drilling site after it has been decommissioned;

24.  Calls on the Commission to introduce a rigorous and mandatory framework for company disclosure regarding environmental, social and governance practices, and to consider measures to enhance the engagement of institutional investors with companies regarding the investment risks of poor environmental practices;

25.  Notes the report by the UK Health and Safety Executive about working conditions in the North Sea, which shows that fatal and major injury rates doubled over the past year; calls on the Commission to investigate these allegations and to take action to ensure high levels of health and safety for those working in offshore drilling;

26.  Calls on the Commission to play an active role in ensuring that activities carried out by third countries and oil extraction projects comply as fully as possible with strict environmental standards and to make provision for specific mechanisms to compensate for any damage caused by third-country offshore oil operations that border the EU;

27.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ L 206, 22.7.1992, p. 7.
(2) OJ L 164, 25.6.2008, p. 19.
(3) OJ L 327, 22.12.2000, p. 1.
(4) SEC(2006)0607 and (2006)0621.
(5) Directive 2003/105/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2003 amending Council Directive 96/82/EC on the control of major-accident hazards involving dangerous substances (OJ L 345, 31.12.2003, p. 97).
(6) Directive 2004/35/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 21 April 2004 on environmental liability with regard to the prevention and remedying of environmental damage (OJ L 143, 30.4.2004, p. 56).
(7) Directive 85/337/EEC, as amended.
(8) Directive 2001/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 June 2001on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment ( OJ L 197, 21.7.2001, p. 30).

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