Select Committee on European Scrutiny Nineteenth Report




COM(00) 802

Commission Communication on a second set of Community measures on maritime safety following the sinking of the oil tanker Erika.

(i) Draft Directive establishing a Community monitoring, control and information system for maritime traffic;

(ii) Draft Regulation on the establishment of a fund for compensation for oil pollution damage in European waters and related measures;

(iii) Draft Regulation establishing a European Maritime Safety Agency.

Legal base:Articles 80(2) and 175(1) EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
Department:Transport, Local Government and the Regions
Basis of consideration:Minister's letter of 8 February 2002
Previous Committee Report:HC 28-viii (2000-01), paragraph 8 (14 March 2001), HC 152-i (2001-02), paragraph 19 (18 July 2001) and HC 152-ix (2001-02), paragraph 5 (5 December 2001)
Discussed in Council:7 December 2001
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:(i) and (iii) Cleared (decision reported on 5 December 2001)

(ii) Not cleared


  7.1  Although the framework for international action on maritime safety is provided by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the Community has in more recent years taken action in this area where IMO standards were lacking or deemed inadequate. In particular, the Erika oil tanker disaster in December 1999 off the Brittany coast prompted the European Parliament and the Council to call on the Commission to review the maritime safety regime for oil tankers.

  7.2  As a result, the Commission produced in March 2000 a Communication[36] on the safety of seaborne oil trade, which included three legislative proposals dealing with enforcement in respect of shipping using Community ports and sailing in the waters under the jurisdiction of the Member States; common rules and standards for ship inspection and survey organisations; and the accelerated phasing-in of double hull or equivalent design requirements for single hull oil tankers. This was followed in December 2000 by the current document, comprising proposals dealing with the establishment of a Community monitoring, control and information system for maritime traffic; the establishment of a compensation fund for oil pollution damage in European waters; and the setting up of a European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).

  7.3  After these proposals had been considered by both our predecessors and ourselves, we cleared the first and third parts of the document at our meeting on 5 December 2001. However, we did register one outstanding concern on the proposal for a European compensation fund for pollution damage, where we noted from the letter of 16 November 2001 we had received from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions (Mr David Jamieson) that action recently had proceeded under the auspices of the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund (IOPC). We said that, whilst we understood that this accorded with the UK's own preference, we were not clear whether this meant that action on the Commission's proposal had now been suspended, or indeed whether the Commission now intended to withdraw that proposal. We therefore asked the Minister to clarify this before we considered what further action, if any, was needed on that part of the document.

Minister's letter of 8 February 2002

  7.4  In his letter of 8 February 2002, the Minister says that the IOPC Fund working group had produced the text of a draft Protocol, which had been referred to the Legal Committee of the International Maritime Organisation for consideration at its next session in April 2002, with the recommendation that a Diplomatic Conference should be convened at the earliest opportunity, which it was hoped would be early in 2003. He says that, in view of this, there is at present very little appetite for a purely Community regional arrangement, but that the Commission's proposal had not yet been withdrawn, and indeed that the European Parliament had proposed a number of amendments to it. However, he also says that the Commission is unlikely to seek to progress the proposal further until after the Diplomatic Conference, and that, if the outcome meets the aspirations of the Member States and the Commission, it is likely that the proposal would then be withdrawn.


  7.5  We are grateful to the Minister for this further information. Since the Commission's proposal is still on the table, we think it would be prudent to continue to withhold clearance until the outcome of the wider international discussions is clearer. We would therefore be glad if the Minister could continue to keep us informed of any further developments, particularly in relation to the planned Diplomatic Conference.

36  (21146) 7245/00; see HC 23-xviii (1999-2000), paragraph 5 (17 May 2000), HC 23-xxiii (1999-2000), paragraph 5 (28 June 2000), HC 23-xxix (1999-2000), paragraph 6 (15 November 2000), and HC 28-viii (2000-01), paragraph 12 (14 March 2001). Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 22 February 2002