Phase-out of single hull oil tankers likely to be delayed

The adoption of the Commission’s proposal for an accelerated phase-out of single hull tankers, originally planned to enter into force in March 2003, is already behind schedule.

Current EU President Greec, which has the EU’s largest merchant fleet, has said that this deadline was “impossible to meet” and that the new measures needed to be studied more carefully before they are adopted.

The Greek Minister for the Merchant Marine, Georges Anomeritis, argued instead for tougher rules at international level. On several occasions, he said he would prefer the negotiation of measures within the international framework of the IMO to unilateral action by the EU.


TheIndependent Association of Independent Tanker Owners (Intertanko)has conducted a study into the effects of the Commission's proposal in comparison with the plans agreed at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

The study concludes that the Commission's plans for the phase-out of tankers above 5,000 dwt alone would cost the industry close to 5 billion dollars more than a phase-out according to the IMO's plans. The phase-out of the 600-5,000 dwt fleet, not included in the IMO's strategy, would cost another several billion dollars.

However,France, Spain and Portugal, the countries affected by the Prestige disaster, have urged the Greek presidency to speed up moves to toughen maritime safety rules and ban single hull tankers from European ports. In a letter of 7 February, the three countries urged their EU partners to come to an agreement on the issue at the 27 March Transport Council.


In line with the conclusions of the 6 December Transport Council, the Commission has presented a proposal for a regulation to accelerate the phase-out of single hull tankers. Under the new proposal, all oil tankers of Erika and Prestige type aged more than 23 years would be banned immediately, while the elimination of more modern ones would take place between 2005 and 2010 (seeEURACTIV on 23 December).

The Commission wanted the proposed measures to be adopted as soon as possible so they could enter into force in March 2003. It is questionable, however, if this goal can be achieved.


For the 27 March Transport Council, a policy debate on the follow-up of the Prestige accident is planned.


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