Imposing a ban on offshore oil drilling or exploration would be "a disproportionate reaction" to last year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, members of the European Parliament agreed in a resolution adopted yesterday (13 September).
Following last year's disaster, the European Commission had contemplated imposing a moratorium on offshore oil drilling but later abandoned the idea, saying such decisions would best be taken at national level.
The Commission is now expected to follow up in the autumn with a legislative proposal to improve offshore oil and gas drilling safety. The legislation will need approval from the European Parliament and EU member states to become law.
In its resolution – adopted with 602 votes in favour, 64 against and 13 abstentions – the Parliament refrained from calling for an outright ban on offshore oil drilling, saying it could damage Europe's economic growth.
"Offshore sources are the world's fourth-largest production area and it is crucial to meeting Europe's energy needs," argued Vicky Ford MEP (European Conservatives and Reformists; UK), the Parliament's rapporteur on the resolution.
Environmentalist were disappointed but welcomed the Parliament's call for oil companies to subscribe to mandatory insurance schemes in order to cover the potential clean-up costs of offshore drilling activity.
The resolution also supported calls to strengthen the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), which they said should be empowered to coordinate national responses in the event of an accident.