Procedure : 2005/0236(COD)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A6-0069/2009

Texts tabled :


Debates :

PV 10/03/2009 - 12
CRE 10/03/2009 - 12

Votes :

PV 11/03/2009 - 5.12
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :


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PE 416.650v02-00 A6-0069/2009

on the Council common position for adopting a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on compliance with flag State requirements

(14288/2/2008 – C6-0484/2008 – 2005/0236(COD))

Committee on Transport and Tourism

Rapporteur: Emanuel Jardim Fernandes



on the Council common position for adopting a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on compliance with flag State requirements

(14288/2/2008 – C6-0484/2008 – 2005/0236(COD))

(Codecision procedure: second reading)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Council common position (14288/2/2008 – C6-0484/2008)(1),

–   having regard to the statement of the Member States on maritime safety (15859/2008),

–   having regard to its position at first reading(2) on the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2005)0586),

–   having regard to Article 251(2) of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to Rule 67 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the recommendation for second reading of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A6‑0069/2009),

1.  Approves the common position;

2.  Notes that the act is adopted in accordance with the common position;

3.  Instructs its President to sign the act with the President of the Council pursuant to Article 254(1) of the EC Treaty;

4.  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;

5.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and Commission.


OJ C 330 E, 30.12.2008, p. 13.


OJ C 27 E, 31.1.2008, p. 140.


24 February 2006: Commission proposal

The Commission presented the proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on compliance with flag State requirements as one of the proposals of the third maritime safety package, also called ERIKA III.

Flag States, that is states which grant ships the right to fly their flag, have a responsibility as members of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to comply with the Organisation's Conventions to which they are party. They must ensure that ships on their register meet the requirements laid down in those Conventions, which are designed to promote safety of life at sea and protection of the marine environment. The key obligations of flag States are set out in the Code for the Implementation of Mandatory IMO Instruments, adopted in November 2005. Compliance with these obligations is to be tested by means of an IMO Member State Audit Scheme, also adopted in November 2005. But participation in the Audit Scheme is voluntary. Moreover the IMO has no power of sanction against state parties which do not implement Convention requirements or enforce these on ships that fly their flag.

The Commission proposal aims at ensuring that Member States effectively and consistently discharge their obligations as flag States in accordance with the IMO Conventions relating to maritime safety and the prevention of pollution caused by ships. To this effect, the proposal foresees that all Member States become party to the IMO conventions and apply in full the mandatory flag State related provisions laid down therein, and that parts of the IMO Code for the implementation of mandatory IMO instruments ("Flag State Code") as well as the Voluntary IMO Member State Audit Scheme would become compulsory at Community level.

The need to transpose the IMO obligations into Community law is attributable to the following two factors: on the one hand, the absence of monitoring arrangements and penalties under international maritime law and, on the other, the high incidence of disparities in quality noted among the European flag States.

In practical terms, the Commission proposal seeks to alleviate two of the IMO's principal weaknesses other than that of a lack of power of control over the application of the rules which it lays down, namely:

–         the existence of a high degree of discretion accorded to each contracting party enabling them to benefit from exemptions or derogations from the basic rules of the conventions;

–         the non-mandatory character of the accompanying measures adopted in the form of an IMO Resolution but regarded as essential for the effective application of the said obligations.

29 March 2007: The European Parliament voted its opinion at first reading

Parliament urged broad support for the Commission proposal and adopted a number of amendments aimed at even strengthening the proposed legislation. The general principle is that the safety of Community shipping and of citizens using it, and of operators providing shipping services and the protection of environment should be ensured at all times. The European Parliament first reading position takes the view that each Member State should ensure the training of flag State surveyors and investigators and should develop a capacity for reviewing, approving and authorising ship construction and equipment designs. Parliament has made it a requirement for the first registration of a ship in a Member State that this Member State should ascertain whether this ship complies with the applicable international rules and regulations and ensure that this is to be confirmed by documentary evidence. If a ship is not newly built, it shall liaise with the previous flag State and request it to pass on the necessary documents and data. The European Parliament also wants the Member States to develop or to maintain a fleet database for their ships, with the main technical details of each ship. Ample information should be included in these databases such as classification and certification, outcome of the Port State control inspections, on casualties and on infringements of IMO conditions, in particular on ship-source pollution.

From 7 April 2008 to 1 September 2008

After two years of "silence" the EU Transport Council had a public political debate on this proposal on 7 April 2008. A majority of Member States considered that a legislative text at Community level would not be the right instrument to regulate this aspect of maritime safety. Some delegations expressed serious concerns related to the mandatory ratification of the IMO conventions foreseen by the Directive and have serious difficulties with the provisions concerning the mandatory application of the IMO Flag State Code at Community level. In general, a large majority of Member States favoured a "soft law" approach to ensure that flag States comply with their international obligations.

Noting this impasse on the Council side, your Rapporteur succeeded to agree with the other Rapporteurs of the Erika III package and the Committee on Transport and Tourism in general that the proposal for a Directive on compliance with flag State requirements constitutes an integral and indispensable part of the whole package and thus a fundamental key in achieving the goal of reinforcing maritime security. Accordingly it was decided to introduce the essential part of this proposal as amendments to the second reading EP position on another dossier of the package notably on common rules and standards for ship inspection and survey organisations and for relevant activities of maritime administrations (repealing Directive 94/57/EC). This procedure has incited the Council to reopen the discussions on this dossier at the informal EU Transport Council in La Rochelle on 1 September 2008.

9 December 2008: Council common position

After substantial negotiations and efforts by the Slovenian Presidency and thereafter, specially the French Presidency of the EU, an initial political agreement on the text was obtained on 9 October 2008, the Council has unanimously adopted a common position with a view to the adoption of a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on compliance with flag State obligations.

The Council considered it necessary to remove from the operative part certain important provisions such as those concerning the ratification of international conventions and the mandatory application in the Community of the Flag State Code of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). Therefore, the Council's common position focuses in particular on the following:

–         Whilst waiting for the IMO audit scheme to become mandatory, Member States have to subject their maritime authorities to such an audit and publish the results.

–         Member States shall put in place a quality management system for their maritime authorities, which is certified in accordance with international standards.

–         Before authorising a ship to fly their respective flag, Member States have to check that it complies with international rules.

–         Member States have to make sure that ships which fly their respective flag and have been detained in the context of a port State inspection are brought into conformity with the relevant IMO conventions.

–         In the case of Member States whose flag is blacklisted or which, for two consecutive years, appears on the grey list of the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State control, Member States have to report the reasons for the poor performance to the Commission.

Resulting from this approach, the common position modifies, to a large extent, the original Commission proposal and guarantees the existence of a coherent package of measures in maritime security, a substantial step forward in ensuring that accidents such as with the ERIKA or the PRESTIGE never take place again.

In parallel to the common position, a declaration of the representatives of the Governments of the Member States of the European Union confirms their commitment:

–         To ratify the main international conventions on maritime safety by 1 January 2012.

–         To apply the IMO Flag State Code and the related audit scheme for maritime authorities.

–         To encourage the IMO to make these two instruments mandatory worldwide.


The proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on compliance with flag State requirements – for two years not even discussed in the Council – was declared "dead" after the public political debate during the EU Transport Council in April this year. The European Parliament insistence of keeping the Erika III package united has significantly contributed that the common position has finally seen the light. Your Rapporteur supports therefore the common position which adds value as it should effectively improve the quality of European flags and provides conditions of competition in the Community which ensure that the choice of flag cannot be based on the lowest level of requirements and recommends that the common position be approved without amendments.



Compliance with the obligations of Flag States


14288/2/2008 – C6-0484/2008 – 2005/0236(COD)

Date of Parliament’s first reading – P number

29.3.2007                     T6-0093/2007

Commission proposal

COM(2005)0586 - C6-0062/2006

Date receipt of common position announced in plenary


Committee responsible

       Date announced in plenary




       Date appointed

Emanuel Jardim Fernandes




Discussed in committee





Date adopted





Result of final vote







Members present for the final vote

Gabriele Albertini, Paolo Costa, Michael Cramer, Luis de Grandes Pascual, Arūnas Degutis, Petr Duchoň, Saïd El Khadraoui, Emanuel Jardim Fernandes, Francesco Ferrari, Georg Jarzembowski, Stanisław Jałowiecki, Timothy Kirkhope, Jaromír Kohlíček, Sepp Kusstatscher, Jörg Leichtfried, Bogusław Liberadzki, Eva Lichtenberger, Marian-Jean Marinescu, Erik Meijer, Reinhard Rack, Ulrike Rodust, Luca Romagnoli, Brian Simpson, Renate Sommer, Dirk Sterckx, Ulrich Stockmann, Michel Teychenné, Silvia-Adriana Ţicău

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Johannes Blokland, Philip Bradbourn, Luigi Cocilovo, Jas Gawronski, Pedro Guerreiro, Lily Jacobs, Rosa Miguélez Ramos, Corien Wortmann-Kool

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