European Parliament backs plans to boosts maritime safety 

Press Releases 
  • Faster maritime accident investigation 
  • Flag states to check safety and environmental performance of ships 
  • Stricter measures to stop shipping pollution 

EU maritime safety should be reinforced with faster maritime accident investigations, broader ships safety inspections and tougher rules on shipping pollution, say MEPs.

On Wednesday, MEPs amended Maritime safety package presented by the Commission in June 2023, which aims to modernise and reinforce EU maritime rules on safety and pollution prevention.

Faster investigations

MEPs agreed that to make investigations of maritime accidents faster, more efficient, to learn from the past and avoid future incidents the investigations should start within two months and conclude within 12 months of the date of the casualty or incident. The update of EU rules on maritime accidents investigation, negotiated by EP rapporteur Caroline Nagtegaal (Renew, NL) and supported by 613 votes to three and seven abstentions, also foresees that working and living conditions on board, which could have impacted the accident, should be part of investigation.

Checking environmental performance of ships

Spearheaded by EP rapporteur Vera Tax (S&D, NL) MEPs also adopted changes to flag State requirements (590 votes to 20 and 10 abstention) and port State control rules (593 votes to three and 28 abstentions). They managed to commit the flag States, which take the first responsibility that a vessel flying its flag is safe to operate, to check their ships at least once every five years and focus their inspections not only on safety, but also on environmental performance of their ships, as well as on the social conditions of the crews on ship engaged in any type of international voyage. In order to support the breakthrough towards maritime digitalisation, improve the transparency and facilitate monitoring an EU database on ships flying the flag of a member state will be set-up within the five years from the entry into force of new rules.

As regards the second line of maritime safety defence, port State control, the new rules will have updated criteria that allows to target ships for inspection at ports. MEPs ensured that environmental deficiencies of ships will have more weight in determining their risk profile. They also managed to add a review clause to consider the inclusion of the Carbon Intensity indicator in the environmental parameters as soon as International Maritime Organisation concludes its revision of the indicator.

Banning more types of spills from ships

According to new rules on preventing pollution from ships in European seas, negotiated with Council by EP rapporteur Marian-Jean Marinescu (EPP, Romania) and green-lit by 583 votes to 27 and 12 abstention, the current list of substances banned from being discharged from ships, such as oil and noxious liquid substances, will now include the discharge of sewage, garbage, and residues from scrubbers. MEPs managed to secure an obligation for the EU to review the rules five years after their transposition into national law to assess if marine plastic litter, loss of containers and plastic pellet spills from ships should also face penalties.

Next steps

EU countries will have 30 months to transpose new provisions into national law and prepare for its implementation.