Documents considered by the Committee on 1 March 2017 Contents
14Passenger ship safety
Cleared from scrutiny
Proposed Directive about registration of persons sailing on board passenger ships operating to or from ports of the Member States and reporting formalities for ships arriving in and/or departing from ports of the Member States
Article 100(2) TFEU; ordinary legislative procedure; QMV
(37833), 9964/16 + ADDs 1–2, COM(16) 370
Summary and Committee’s conclusions
14.1In June 2016 the Commission proposed, as part of a Passenger Ship Safety Package, a Directive to amend legislation about registration of persons on passenger ships operating to or from EU ports and reporting formalities for ships arriving in and/or departing from EU ports. We last considered this proposal in November 2016 when we heard from the Government that Council consideration of it had only just begun. So, we retained the document under scrutiny, pending information on developments in its negotiation. We reminded the Government that we wanted particularly to hear about the issue of the practicality of using Automatic Identification Systems for recording passenger numbers.
14.2The Government tells us now that:
- good progress has been made on the UK’s objectives in the Council Shipping Working Party and that the proposal is now expected to be put to the Council shortly for agreement to a General Approach;
- the Government is content that the exemptions it has obtained, combined with the transitional period it has also secured, minimise additional burdens on the industry, whilst maintaining current benefits to safety; and
- it believes that it would be in the UK’s interest to secure these improvements by voting in favour of the General Approach.
14.3When, in July 2016, we first considered this proposed amending Directive we noted its potential utility in simplifying the legislation concerning these aspects of passenger ship safety. Given the satisfactory improvements to the proposal the Government now reports, we clear the document from scrutiny.
Full details of the document
Proposed Directive amending Council Directive 98/41/EC on the registration of persons sailing on board passenger ships operating to or from ports of the Member States of the Community and amending Directive 2010/65/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on reporting formalities for ships arriving in and/or departing from ports of the Member States: (37833), 9964/16 + ADDs 1–2, COM(16) 370.
14.4In June 2016 the Commission published three proposed amending Directives, its Passenger Ship Safety Package, which aimed to simplify and streamline the existing EU passenger ship safety legislation. When, in July 2016, we considered these proposals the Government, commented positively on aspects of the present proposals, but said that it was considering its position on the details and drew our attention to a number of issues it had already identified as needing further consideration. We recognised the potential utility of these simplification proposals. In November 2016, having heard that the December 2016 Transport Council was expected to agree a General Approach on two of the proposals, concerning safety rules and standards for passenger ships and Port State Control inspections, which would very largely meet UK concerns, we cleared these documents from scrutiny.
14.5As for this draft amending Directive, the third proposal, concerning registration of persons and reporting formalities, the Government told us that Working Party discussion had only just begun and that there was nothing yet of significance to report. So, we retained this document under scrutiny, pending information on developments in its negotiation. We reminded the Government that that information should cover the issue of the practicality of using Automatic Identification Systems for recording passenger numbers.
The Minister’s letter of 28 February 2017
14.6The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Mr John Hayes), first reminds us that the Government broadly welcomed the proposed simplification measures in the Passenger Ship Safety Package, albeit having some concerns to be addressed during negotiation. He then tells us that:
- General Approaches were indeed agreed on the proposals concerning safety rules and standards for passenger ships and Port State Control inspections at the December 2016 Transport Council;
- the Maltese Presidency has since taken forward negotiations on this remaining proposal, to amend the passenger counting and registration Directive;
- the proposal was discussed most recently in the Council Shipping Working Party on 8 and 13 February 2017, where good progress was made on the UK’s objectives; and
- it is now expected to be put to the Council shortly for agreement to a General Approach.
14.7The Minister explains that:
- the current Directive requires passenger ship operators to count the number of passengers on board before a ship departs and store the information in a shore-based register which can be provided to Member State authorities in the event of an accident;
- for voyages of more than 20 nautical miles, they must also collect passenger data;
- the proposed amending Directive sought to modernise this system by instead requiring operators to report the numbers and data into the online National Single Window (NSW) maritime reporting system:
- for those ships on international voyages which already use the NSW for reporting immigration and customs information, this proposal would enable them to report passenger data at the same time, and thus reduce doublereporting;
- the major focus of Working Party discussions has therefore been the extent to which smaller ship operators, which do not currently use the NSW, should have to migrate on to it for the purposes of this proposal; and
- the Government, working with like-minded Member States, has argued that, for small vessel operators on short voyages (of 20 nautical miles and below) and those operating domestically, it would be disproportionate for this to be their only means of reporting passengers.
14.8The Minister continues that at the 8 February 2017 Working Party, the UK and its allies were successful in protecting these smaller ship operators through three key means. He says that the Government has:
- obtained an exemption for ships travelling exclusively in protected sea areas (where search and rescue facilities are assured), on voyages of less than one hour, from the obligation to report to the NSW;
- successfully defended the possibility for ships travelling 20 nautical miles or fewer to report to HM Coastguard directly by using the Automatic Identification System rather than using the NSW; and
- obtained a transitional period of ten years before ships engaged in other journeys must move to use of the NSW system—this provides time for ship operators across the EU to develop technological solutions to facilitate reporting.
14.9The Minister comments that:
- the Government estimates that these improvements would benefit 39 scheduled seagoing routes within the UK, which are under the scope of Article 4 (which concerns the counting and reporting requirement) and which only need to report passenger numbers;
- some additional routes would also benefit from the one hour exemption;
- there are also a number of tourist trip services which would come under the scope of the Article 4 reporting requirement, but the number of these cannot be quantified at this time;
- it should be noted that this proposal is applicable to seagoing ships only and does not cover ships operating on UK categorised waters—such ships will continue to come under the scope of UK national reporting requirements;
- it is estimated that the UK has 19 scheduled seagoing domestic passenger ship routes which are under the scope of Article 5 (concerning details of passengers and the timing of their transmission) and would need to report all passenger details to the NSW instead of the shore-based register—this is due to these voyages being over 20 nautical miles and one hour or more in duration;
- the Government estimates that ships operating these voyages would need to transition to report all passenger details including name, year of birth, and nationality and where offered, special assistance needs, into the NSW; and
- the ten year transition period would, however limit the initial impact, allowing time for ship operators to develop cost-effective solutions and capabilities to input data, and for the NSW to reach maturity.
14.10The Minister says that:
- the Government is content that these exemptions, combined with the transitional period, minimise additional burdens on the industry, whilst maintaining current benefits to safety;
- it believes that it would be in the UK’s interest to secure the improvements that it has achieved by voting in favour of the General Approach; and
- he would, accordingly, like us to clear the proposal from scrutiny.
14.11Turning to the practicality of using Automatic Identification Systems for recording passenger numbers, the Minister says that:
- Automatic Identification Systems are not currently used for this purpose at a national level for seagoing passenger ships;
- the Port of London Authority has, however, successfully implemented “Thames AIS”, and this is used for reporting passenger numbers; and
- given the ten year transition period, the Government is confident that a system could be developed at a national level which, in conjunction with the protected sea area exemption for ships on voyages under one hour, would minimise the impact for the UK’s small operators in terms of the need to install new equipment and provide the required data to HM Coastguard.
14.12Finally, the Minister tells us that:
- the European Parliament is still at a fairly early stage in its consideration of the proposed amending Directive;
- however, the rapporteur has just published a draft report for consideration by the Committee on Transport and Tourism;
- in the main, this supports the same position as that reached in Council Working Party meetings;
- the rapporteur does, however, propose various amendments which mainly act to clarify and shorten time allowed for reporting and for the Commission to agree exemptions;
- one proposed amendment to Article 4 of the Directive would allow an operator to develop a system of reporting passenger numbers which is not an Automatic Identification System so long as it is approved by the Member State; and
- this is welcome as it would allow operators to develop their own reporting system in conjunction with HM Coastguard without the potential cost of upgrading the Automatic Identification System.
Previous Committee Reports
Eighteenth Report HC 71-xvi (2016–17), chapter 7 (16 November 2016) and Eighth Report HC 71-vi (2016–17), chapter 9 (13 July 2016).