Procedure : 2005/0239(COD)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A6-0100/2009

Texts tabled :


Debates :

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

Votes :

PV 11/03/2009 - 5.8
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :


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25 February 2009
PE 418.343v02-00 A6-0100/2009

on the joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2002/59/EC establishing a Community vessel traffic monitoring and information system

(PE-CONS 3722/2008 – C6-0045/2009 – 2005/0239(COD))

European Parliament delegation to the Conciliation Committee

Delegation chair: Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou

Rapporteur: Dirk Sterckx



on the joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2002/59/EC establishing a Community vessel traffic monitoring and information system

(PE-CONS 3722/2008 – C6-0045/2009 – 2005/0239(COD))

(Codecision procedure: third reading)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee (PE-CONS 3722/2008 – C6-0045/2009),

–   having regard to its position at first reading(1) on the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2005)0589),

–   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)0829),

–   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 (A6-0100/2009),

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.


OJ C 74 E, 20.3.2008, p. 533.


Texts adopted, 24.9.2008, P6_TA(2008)0443.


OJ C 184 E, 22.7.2008, p. 1.


I. Background

I.1 The 3rd Maritime Package

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 amending Directive 2002/59/EC establishing a Community vessel traffic monitoring and information system was adopted by the Commission on 23.11.2005. Its objective is to reflect technological developments for the monitoring of ships and to improve the procedures for the accommodation of ships in “places of refuge”. In particular the latter has been a political priority for the Parliament for a long time. The successive disasters and near-disasters had shown that much time is often wasted because it was not clear who was responsible for what or because those competent to take a decision had to call on the expertise of a team which often had to be set up on an ad hoc basis. In the resolution prepared by MARE, Parliament had therefore called for independent authorities with the powers and expertise to take binding decisions on a place of refuge.

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 1st reading the Parliament fully endorsed the proposal and only sought some clarifications and accentuations. These concerned:

· the independence of experts and the tasks of the authorities responsible for the accommodation of ships in distress;

· the implementation of IMO guidelines for the fair treatment of seafarers in case of an accident;

· the obligation to accommodate also uninsured ships in places of refuge;

· the information to be provided by the shipper under his responsibility for every vessel entering a European port;

· the compensation for ports and places of refuge for damage;

· confidentiality requirements in respect of traffic data.

Regarding the obligation to equip fishing vessels with identification systems Parliament sought greater flexibility by excluding vessels of less than 24 metres.

Because the Council had adopted its general approach months before the Parliament's 1st reading, and had as a consequence not even considered Parliament’s views and amendments and had, in addition, abandoned a number of Commission proposals, your rapporteur recommended for 2nd reading an almost full return to Parliament’s position in 1st reading.

Much progress was then made during negotiations in 2nd reading during which most of the problems could be solved. This concerned, in particular, all the aspects of the authority deciding on the accommodation of ships in distress.

The dossier then went to conciliation with a limited number of open points and several amendments reinstating references to and content of the "missing two".

III. Conciliation

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.

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 and Secretary 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

Following the 2nd reading negotiations there were only three outstanding issues:

· the compensation of ports for potential damage when they loose the decision-making power whether to accommodate a ship in distress or not to an authority taking independent decisions;

· the question of how to ensure the fair treatment of seafarers in case of an accident in such a way that the crew of a ship in distress seeks immediate assistance independent of the territorial waters they are in; and

· the amount of bunker oil which would not have to be declared.

These questions could be solved after the two trialogues of 4.11. and 2.12.2008.

IV. Key points of the agreement reached

· Designation of an independent competent authority

Parliament succeeded in convincing Council to clarify the definition of the authority competent to take decisions in case of a disaster. Your rapporteur did not require the Member State to abandon totally their internal structure, but wanted to ensure that the competent authority has the necessary independent (maritime) expertise to be able to decide independently on the best course of action to avoid or limit a disaster as far as possible. The permanent character of the authority was in that respect an important element.

· The concept of a ship in need of assistance as opposed to a ship in distress

The Commission, supported by the Parliament, used the expression ‘ship in distress’. Basing itself on IMO guidelines for the accommodation of ships in need of assistance, the Council used the expression ‘ship in need of assistance’. Your rapporteur could agree with the Council but was dissatisfied with the Council’s definition, which appeared to disregard the importance of human lives in accommodating ships in difficulties. The link with the Search and Rescue Convention of 1979 (SAR) concerning the rescue of human lives was then clarified.

· Fair treatment of masters and crews in the event of an accident

Following a discussion of the legal possibilities a solution was found on how to include the IMO guidelines on the fair treatment of seafarers in case of an accident: 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 provisions of the IMO guidelines on this issue into account.

· Consequences of absence of an insurance certificate or financial guarantee

It was clarified that the absence of an appropriate insurance certificate would not in itself be considered a sufficient reason not to accommodate a ship in distress. Following the political agreement on the civil liability dossier (one of the "missing two") the references to it could be reintroduced.

· Compensation schemes for places of refuge and ports

In exceptional cases, the accommodation of a ship may give rise to damage and costs for the port in question which are not covered by existing funds or conventions. Parliament has repeatedly called in recent years for a compensation scheme for such cases which might help to reduce any resistance of ports to providing refuge. Since such a scheme was not acceptable to Council a compromise was found asking the Commission to examine and put forward different policy options in a report to be presented by the end of 2011.

· Bunker oil

A compromise was found according to which any bunker oil on ships above 1000 gross tonnage would have to be notified.

· Introduction of automatic identification system (AIS) for fishing vessels

Parliament agreed with the Council to equip small fishing vessels as of 15 meters with AIS. This is clearly of value to small fishing vessels since this is the category of vessel frequently involved in collisions with fatal consequences for the crew.

V. Conclusion

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.

With the approval of this text, Parliament is achieving an important part of the legislative framework necessary to avoid a repetition of the successive maritime disasters we had with the Erika and the Prestige. In order for a rescue operation to succeed, time is of the essence. This Directive will force Member States to work out a complete "scenario" for when an accident occurs. Your rapporteur hopes that the Member States won't wait for 2011 to take the necessary measures to implement this Directive. Furthermore this Directive reflects the progress made towards harmonising electronic data exchange and will thus allow the further optimisation and integration of the European vessel traffic monitoring and information system.



Joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2002/59/EC establishing a Community vessel traffic monitoring and information system


PE-CONS 3722/2008 – C6-0045/2009 – 2005/0239(COD)

Delegation chair(wo)man: Vice-President

Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou

Committee responsibleChair(wo)man:

TRANPaolo Costa


Dirk Sterckx


Commission proposal

COM(2005)0589 - C6-0004/2006

Date of Parliament’s first reading – P number



Amended Commission proposal


Council common position

  Date announced in plenary

5719/3/2008 - C6-0225/2008


Commission position(Article 251(2), subpara 2, indent 3)


Date of Parliament’s second reading – P number



Commission opinion(Article 251(2), subpara 3, point (c))


Date Council received 2nd reading


Date of Council letter on non-approval of Parliament amendments


Conciliation Committee meetings





Date of vote by Parliament delegation


Result of vote







Members present

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

Substitute(s) present

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


Date tabled


Comments(available in one language only)


Deadline for second reading by Council


Deadline for convening the Committee

  Requesting institution – date

0.0.0000[Council] – 0.0.0000

Deadline for work in the Committee

  Requesting institution – date

3.2.2009Parliament – 19.1.2009

Deadline for adopting the act

        Requesting institution – date

0.0.0000[Council] – 0.0.0000

Last updated: 26 February 2009Legal notice