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Parliamentary questions
29 May 2007
Answer given by Mr Verheugen on behalf of the Commission

The Commission recognises the importance of the cruise industry in its Green Paper ‘Towards a future Maritime Policy for the Union: A European vision for the oceans and seas’(1). It points to cruise shipping as one of the maritime sectors with the largest growth potential and refers to the strong growth already realised over the last years. It also raises the importance of cruise ships for the shipbuilding industry in Europe and that this form of tourism contributes to the development of coastal areas and islands.

In the context of the ongoing consultation process that follows the Green Paper, all stakeholders are invited to react. This provides the various stakeholders representing the cruise industry with the opportunity to express their views on possible action at Community level, including in relation to the regulatory environment.

In the context of its approach to tourism more generally, the Commission will continue to maintain regular contacts with stakeholders on issues of concern.

As regards maritime safety, the Commission is currently engaged in updating Council Directive 98/18/EC of 17 March 1998 on safety rules and standards for passenger ships(2) to ensure coherence with developments at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). Furthermore, the Commission is considering the review of Council Directive 1999/35/EC of 29 April 1999 on a system of mandatory surveys for the safe operation of regular ro-ro ferry and high-speed passenger craft services(3), in order to adapt it to the reform of the port state control regime, and Directive 2003/25/EC of Parliament and of the Council of 14 April 2003 on specific stability requirements for ro-ro passenger ships(4), having regard to the rules recently approved by the IMO in that respect.

Improving the protection of passengers entails establishing a system of carrier liability which bears comparison with the systems in force in other areas of transport, in particular aviation and the railways. Within the framework of the 3rd ‘Maritime Safety’ package, and following extensive stakeholder consultation, the Commission has made a proposal with a view to incorporating into Community law the provisions of the 2002 Athens Convention relating to the carriage of passengers and their luggage by sea, adopted under the auspices of the IMO.

Under Directive 2003/24/EC(5) Member States are in the process of developing national action plans in consultation with stakeholders to ensure that, as far as possible, ships are suitably equipped to facilitate the access and information requirements of persons with reduced mobility. The Commission is considering a proposal to protect the rights of passengers travelling by sea, in particular those passengers with reduced mobility. Public consultations were launched in 2005 and 2006 to help determine a sufficient level of protection. The cruise industry, notably the European Cruise Council and Medcruise, was closely involved in this extensive consultation exercise which concluded in a meeting on 18 January 2007. Future action in this field should benefit the cruise industry by encouraging the provision throughout the European Union of appropriate facilities for their clients both on board and on shore.

(1)COM(2006)275 final.
(2)OJ L 144, 15.5.1998.
(3)OJ L 138, 1.6.1999.
(4)OJ L 123, 17.5.2003.
(5)Directive 2003/24/EC of Parliament and of the Council of 14 April 2003 amending Council Directive 98/18/EC on safety rules and standards for passenger ships, OJ L 123, 17.5.2003.

OJ C 293, 05/12/2007
Last updated: 10 July 2007Legal notice