MEPs supported Commission proposals to make International Maritime Organisation (IMO) rules on flag-state obligations mandatory for all member states, which are required to monitor compliance with international standards by ships sailing under their flag. However, at present an important degree of discretion is left to the flag states, which the new legislation would remove by introducing regular audits and assessments.
In previous discussions, the Council had opposed such a measure, with member states arguing that this would generate too many additional costs for their administrations and that the Commission had no right to take action in a field they believe should be left to international law.
MEPs also voted to strengthen Commission proposals to increase the liability of ship operators and to compensate third parties and passengers in the event of accidents. At present, for damage caused by ships to third parties, international conventions allow shipowners to limit their liability in almost all cases.
The draft directive would introduce compulsory insurance shemes for shipowners in Europe and 'core rules' governing civil liability on an EU basis by incorporating the IMO Convention on the Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims (LLMC) into EU law.