Documents considered by the Committee on 15 December 2010 - European Scrutiny Committee Contents

10 The European Maritime Safety Agency



+ ADDs 1-2

COM(10) 611

Draft Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 1406/2002 establishing a European Maritime Safety Agency
Legal baseArticle 100(2) TFEU; co-decision; QMV
Document originated28 October 2010
Deposited in Parliament9 November 2010
Basis of considerationEM of 29 November 2010
Previous Committee ReportNone
To be discussed in CouncilNot known
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionNot cleared; further information requested


10.1 The major oil pollution caused by wreck of the "Erika" in 1999 led to the adoption of Regulation (EC) No 1406/2002,[47] setting up a European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) as a technical body with the aim of ensuring a uniform and effective level of maritime safety and prevention of pollution by ships in the EU. Since its adoption the Regulation has been modified three times. The first modification concerned financial and budgetary procedures and transparency.[48] The second modification was in response to the "Prestige" incident in 2002 and increased the Agency's responsibility in regard to pollution preparedness and response. It also took account of the development of EU competence in maritime security and tasked the EMSA with greater responsibility in the field of training of seafarers.[49] The third modification gave the EMSA a multi-annual financial framework of €154 million (£129 million) for pollution response activities for the financial period 2007-2013.[50]

The document

10.2 The Commission presents this draft Regulation to amend Regulation (EC) No 1406/2002 to clarify the existing tasks and roles of the EMSA and to extend those tasks to new areas under development at the international and/or EU level — it considers that the previous amendments are not sufficient to address what it sees as new challenges on the horizon for EMSA. The Commission proposes that:

·  the Agency's current objectives and tasks be maintained, but 14 new, largely technical, tasks be added, primarily as a result of the implementation of recent maritime safety legislation;

·  the EMSA should be more involved in EU maritime research, and in particular, analysis of research projects and identifying areas of possible regulatory follow-up;

·  the Agency could use its comprehensive technical knowledge to help the Commission identify research actions

·  the EMSA's assistance to the Commission and to the Member States in various international and regional organisations be amended to ensure that the Commission and the Member States receive appropriate technical advice;

·  asserting that certain operational services operated by the EMSA could contribute more fully to other EU policies, having, for example, an integrated approach to maritime surveillance under the integrated EU maritime policy,[51] which would bring together existing, "in development" or planned surveillance systems and allow each to be interoperable with one another;

·  citing the recent Gulf of Mexico oil disaster as evidence of the risks of offshore oil operations to maritime transport and marine environment, making a revision that would allow the Agency's response capabilities to be available in all cases of marine pollution, not just that caused by a ship, and that specifically targets offshore oil platforms;

·  the legal basis for technical cooperation with neighbouring countries be made less restrictive, saying that only Norway and Iceland are participating in the EMSA and that other countries which share a regional sea with the EU have expressed an interest in technical cooperation with EMSA in various fields; and

·  changing the Agency's role in respect of maritime security, by removing direct reference to specific articles of Regulation(EC) No 725/2004, on enhancing ship and port facility security, so as to allow the EMSA greater flexibility when acting under that Regulation, but whilst not exceeding the provisions of that Regulation.[52]

10.3 The draft Regulation is accompanied by the Commission's impact assessment (and a summary of that assessment). In the assessment the Commission:

·  reviews a number of options regarding the Regulation and is of the opinion that the external evaluation of the EMSA's past and current performance has confirmed the expected added value of the Agency to the Commission and to the Member States regarding maritime safety, maritime security, the prevention of pollution and the response to pollution caused by ships;

·  argues, however, that a number of amendments are required that would clarify the tasks and the governance of the Agency;

·  highlights what it sees as the potential added benefit the Agency could give by undertaking the new tasks;

·  says that, whilst proposing alignment of certain parts of the text with similar Regulations for other EU agencies, it has opted for a limited modification of the governance arrangements — preferring to leave questions of a horizontal nature (that is those related to all EU agencies) to discussions between the EU institutions;

·  says that the combined effect of the changes proposed would result in an additional 18 staff posts to be phased in between 2012 and 2014, that a significant number of these posts should come from internal redeployment of staff and that six posts will be so filled; and

·  says that the overall budgetary costs for the period 2012-2015 are estimated at €3.9 million (£3.3 million).

The Government's view

10.4 The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport, (Mike Penning) notes that the Commission maintains that the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality are fully respected in the draft Regulation and that the independent external evaluation confirmed the need for EU intervention in order to assist Member States and the Commission to attain the required level of maritime safety, maritime security and protection of the marine environment within the EU. He comments that, although the effectiveness of the Agency's activities has been acknowledged, it is arguable, however, whether all the proposed measures are absolutely necessary and that this is something that will need to be addressed in negotiations.

10.5 Turning to the policy implications the Minister tells us that:

·  the Government agrees that some elements of this proposal are sensible, for example some amendments bring the wording into line with that used in legislation for other EU agencies;

·  it is, however, cautious about any further amendment to the EMSA's founding Regulation that results in a need to increase both its staff and its expenditure;

·  in terms of staff numbers, the EMSA has increased in size by 40% over the period 2008-2011, with the addition of 55 new posts — of these, 32 were needed for new Long Range Identification and Tracking[53] tasks;

·  similarly the budget has also been increasing — there is already a proposed additional €3 million (£2.5 Million), or 6%, increase in the Agency's 2011 budget over its 2010 budget, to about €53 million (£44.4 million);

·  the budgetary impact of these proposals, estimated at an additional €3.9 million (£3.3 million) over the period 2012 -2015, will be on top of this;

·  at present the proposals have not been discussed in detail with officials of Member States — a presentation was given at a maritime working group on 21 October 2010 and at the EMSA Administrative Board Meeting on 18 November 2010;

·  advice is being sought from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, whose inspectors are responsible for undertaking tasks within the scope of the Agency's objectives, to understand what impact the proposals would have on their work;

·  it is proposed that, in line with Government policy on any increase to the EU budget, those amendments that can be directly attributable to an increase in budget and staffing numbers will be opposed;

·  the Government believes that a number of other Member States are also concerned at the speed and the size of the proposed increases, particularly when measured against the current global and eurozone economic climate;

·  the Commission's own impact assessment makes clear that the duties of the EMSA with regards to maritime security should not go beyond the scope of Regulation (EC) No 725/2004 — however, proposed wording in two articles is ambiguous in this respect and could be misinterpreted and the Government will press for this to be rectified;

·  the Commission proposals to extend the EMSA's emergency response role to cover all marine pollution, which would include offshore oil platforms, and to allow the EMSA's response vessels to be used to help out in an emergency is a pragmatic approach;

·  but the Government would oppose any proposed increase in these resources for the purposes of carrying out these tasks —this is because most coastal states already have robust emergency procedures in place and are best placed to manage any such incidents in their waters;

·  it is also arguable whether the EMSA has the necessary expertise in these areas —which could mean that it would have to buy this expertise in; and

·  the Commission has given little justification delete requirements for the Agency's Executive Director to produce an annual report, detailing the financial execution of the detailed plan for the Agency's pollution preparedness and response activities and to give an update of the status of all actions funded under that plan, for the Commission and the Agency's Administrative Board and for the Commission to submit this report to the European Parliament for information — the Government feels for this loss of financial scrutiny is not satisfactory given the current economic climate.

10.6 On the financial implications of the draft Regulation the Minister says that the Government is preparing an impact assessment, which is expected to be available early in the New Year.


10.7 We recognise that the Government's consideration of this draft Regulation appears to be at an early stage and that negotiations on it have not begun. So before considering the matter further we should like to hear about developments in the Government's thinking and in preliminary negotiations, particularly on subsidiarity and proportionality, the financial implications of the expanded role proposed for the EMSA and the Government's impact assessment. Meanwhile the document remains under scrutiny.

47   OJ L 208, 5.8.2002, p. 1. Back

48   Regulation (EC) No 1644/2003, OJ L 245, 29.9.2003, p. 10. Back

49   Regulation (EC) No 724/2004, OJ L 129, 29.4.2004, p. 1. Back

50   Regulation (EC) No 2038/2006, OJ L 394, 30.12.2006, p. 1 and corrigendum in OJ L 30, 3.2.2007, p. 12.  Back

51   (31028) 14365/09 + ADD 1: see HC 5-x (2009-10), chapter 12 (9 February 2010). Back

52   Regulation (EC) No 725/2004, OJ L 129, 29.4.2004, p. 6. Back

53   See  Back

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