SAFETY OF SEABORNE OIL TRADE
Commission Communication on a second set of Community measures on maritime safety following the sinking of the oil tanker Erika.
(i) Draft Directive establishing a Community monitoring, control and information system for maritime traffic;
(ii) Draft Regulation on the establishment of a fund for compensation for oil pollution damage in European waters and related measures;
(iii) Draft Regulation establishing a European Maritime Safety Agency.
|Legal base:||Articles 80(2) and 175(1) EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
|Department:||Transport, Local Government and the Regions
|Basis of consideration:||Minister's letter of 8 February 2002
|Previous Committee Report:||HC 28-viii (2000-01), paragraph 8 (14 March 2001), HC 152-i (2001-02), paragraph 19 (18 July 2001) and HC 152-ix (2001-02), paragraph 5 (5 December 2001)
|Discussed in Council:||7 December 2001
|Committee's assessment:||Politically important
|Committee's decision:||(i) and (iii) Cleared (decision reported on 5 December 2001)
(ii) Not cleared
7.1 Although the framework for international action on
maritime safety is provided by the International Maritime Organisation
(IMO), the Community has in more recent years taken action in
this area where IMO standards were lacking or deemed inadequate.
In particular, the Erika oil tanker disaster in December 1999
off the Brittany coast prompted the European Parliament and the
Council to call on the Commission to review the maritime safety
regime for oil tankers.
7.2 As a result, the Commission produced in March 2000
a Communication on
the safety of seaborne oil trade, which included three legislative
proposals dealing with enforcement in respect of shipping using
Community ports and sailing in the waters under the jurisdiction
of the Member States; common rules and standards for ship inspection
and survey organisations; and the accelerated phasing-in of double
hull or equivalent design requirements for single hull oil tankers.
This was followed in December 2000 by the current document, comprising
proposals dealing with the establishment of a Community monitoring,
control and information system for maritime traffic; the establishment
of a compensation fund for oil pollution damage in European waters;
and the setting up of a European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).
7.3 After these proposals had been considered by both
our predecessors and ourselves, we cleared the first and third
parts of the document at our meeting on 5 December 2001. However,
we did register one outstanding concern on the proposal for a
European compensation fund for pollution damage, where we noted
from the letter of 16 November 2001 we had received from the Parliamentary
Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Transport, Local
Government and the Regions (Mr David Jamieson) that action recently
had proceeded under the auspices of the International Oil Pollution
Compensation Fund (IOPC). We said that, whilst we understood that
this accorded with the UK's own preference, we were not clear
whether this meant that action on the Commission's proposal had
now been suspended, or indeed whether the Commission now intended
to withdraw that proposal. We therefore asked the Minister to
clarify this before we considered what further action, if any,
was needed on that part of the document.
Minister's letter of 8 February 2002
7.4 In his letter of 8 February 2002, the Minister says
that the IOPC Fund working group had produced the text of a draft
Protocol, which had been referred to the Legal Committee of the
International Maritime Organisation for consideration at its next
session in April 2002, with the recommendation that a Diplomatic
Conference should be convened at the earliest opportunity, which
it was hoped would be early in 2003. He says that, in view of
this, there is at present very little appetite for a purely Community
regional arrangement, but that the Commission's proposal had not
yet been withdrawn, and indeed that the European Parliament had
proposed a number of amendments to it. However, he also says that
the Commission is unlikely to seek to progress the proposal further
until after the Diplomatic Conference, and that, if the outcome
meets the aspirations of the Member States and the Commission,
it is likely that the proposal would then be withdrawn.
7.5 We are grateful to the Minister for this further
information. Since the Commission's proposal is still on the table,
we think it would be prudent to continue to withhold clearance
until the outcome of the wider international discussions is clearer.
We would therefore be glad if the Minister could continue to keep
us informed of any further developments, particularly in relation
to the planned Diplomatic Conference.
7245/00; see HC 23-xviii (1999-2000), paragraph 5 (17 May 2000),
HC 23-xxiii (1999-2000), paragraph 5 (28 June 2000), HC 23-xxix
(1999-2000), paragraph 6 (15 November 2000), and HC 28-viii (2000-01),
paragraph 12 (14 March 2001). Back