The European Commission is awaiting information from the Italian authorities on recent incidents involving giant cruise ships in the Venice Lagoon sailing dangerously close to the shore, a practice that led in January 2012 to the maritime disaster of the Costa Concordia. EURACTIV Italy reports.
Following oil slicks that devastated European coasts in the past decade, the Commission is taking further action to improve maritime safety by preventing accidents and pollution and better controlling their effects. Its proposals also seek to enhance passenger and crew safety against the risks of accidents and terrorist attacks.
A package of legislative measures aimed at protecting Europe from maritime accidents and pollution looks likely to face a special 'last chance' conciliation procedure as the European Parliament yesterday (24 September) refused to give in to national governments' attempts to water down the new rules.
EU transport ministers have rejected Commission proposals to tighten the bloc's protection against maritime pollution. But they came closer to a deal on the controversial opening up of haulage and coach services to increased competition.
While international efforts to clean up shipping made significant progress last week with a compromise on cutting air pollution from ships, a meeting of European transport ministers today (7 April) could see EU ambitions to tackle maritime pollution scaled down.
The Commission has tabled a revised version of an EU directive imposing criminal sanctions in cases of maritime pollution. The original proposal had to be modified following a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling last year.
In a landmark decision that could set a legal precedent, the French energy giant Total and three other parties have been charged for their role in the sinking of the Erika ship, which caused a major oil spill in 1999.
A vote in the Transport Council on planned rules for beefing-up shipping standards and preventing accidents at sea saw member states confirm their opposition to Parliament's stance on issues such as ship inspections and assistance for vessels in distress.
Prosecutors have requested maximum fines for French oil company Total and imprisonment for the manager and the owner of the Erika tanker, for their role in the sinking of the Erika ship, which caused a major oil spill, devastating the French coast in 1999.
Parliament has approved measures to increase safety at sea in hope of averting similar disasters to those caused by the sinking of the Erika and Prestige oil tankers. Member states now want more flexibility for ship inspections and dealing with vessels in distress.
A vote in Parliament on rules aimed at beefing up maritime safety in European waters is expected to see MEPs take a firm stance against member states on issues such as ship inspections and assistance for vessels in distress.
The Council agreed on a draft directive that aims to ensure European seas and oceans are kept pollution-free and productive. But environmentalists attack what they perceive as the directive's "weak objectives" and lack of serious commitment.
The Commission will kick-start a public debate in May with a 'Green paper' proposing a comprehensive approach to issues as diverse as fisheries, shipbuilding, tourism, energy, environmental protection and maritime safety.
The Commission is launching consultations for an
all-encompassing approach to maritime and coastland policy aimed at
developing sustainable economic activity. Sectors concerned include
fisheries, tourism, energy and transport.
A technology platform of industry, national authorities,
regulatory bodies, research centres and universities on the
maritime industry sector has been launched to maintain
Europe's leading position in the industry.
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