Commission adopts new rules in wake of Costa Concordia disaster

Wreckage of the Costa Concordia, which sank back in 2012. [DG ECHO/Flickr]

The European Commission has adopted a series of legal proposals aimed at simplifying and modifying the safety and security framework for passenger boats in EU waters. EURACTIV Spain reports.

Updating the legislation has been a reaction to “lessons learned, including accidents and the evolution of technology”, said the Commission, which insisted that the safety of more than 400 million passengers that set sail in EU waters every year would be guaranteed in a more effective and efficient manner.

The tragedy of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, which ran aground and capsized off the Italian coast in 2012, is still fresh in the mind of many EU citizens. The ship, which was writen off in the disaster, was carrying 4,229 people, 32 of whom lost their lives and 64 of whom were injured. Last year, its captain, Francesco Schettino, was sentenced to 16 years in prison for manslaughter. An appeal was heard last week, but was quashed.

Among other measures, the executive’s proposal includes allowing relevant authorities immediate access to important data in case of emergency, so as to allow search and rescue operations to be carried out more effectively.

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One idea is that passenger data will have to be recorded digitally and made available across the board. Currently, passenger data is stored by the shipping company in question. The proposal also introduces flexibility for operators of shorter maritime routes.

Another part of the Commission’s plan is to ensure that boats constructed from aluminium comply with legislation on technical regulations for domestic passenger boats and fire safety.

The executive also said that vessels less than 24 metres in length should be excluded from standards that have to-date been difficult to apply in the real world. National rules for these kinds of boats are generally more appropriate as they take into account local circumstances.

Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said that “Offering the highest safety standards to passengers across all transport modes is one of my top priorities.” She added that the executive’s proposal will “remove some redundant and costly requirements. This clearly is Better Regulation at work.”

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