EC Takes Finland, Italy to Court
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
The European Commission decided to lodge a complaint to the Court of Justice against Finland for failure to respect EU legislation on Port State control of shipping. The aim of the infringed legislation is to reduce substandard shipping in the waters under the jurisdiction of Member States by increasing compliance with international and Community legislation. "This Directive is one of the pillars of our maritime safety legislation and we very much hope that Finland will take the necessary measures as soon as possible," Vice-President Loyola de Palacio said. "This is particularly important as the Baltic Sea would not survive an Erika disaster", she added. The Commission also decided to take Italy to the Court of Justice for failure to transpose into national law EU legislation on marine equipment aimed at ensuring the uniform application of the international instruments relating to equipment placed on board seagoing ships.
The Commission decided to bring Finland to the Court of Justice for failure to communicate national measures transposing a 2001 Directive on Port State control. This Directive, which was adopted following the Erika disaster in 1999, reinforces EU rules relating to the establishment of common criteria for control of visiting ships by the State of the visited port and to the harmonisation of inspection and detention procedures. Member States had to adopt the necessary legislation not later than 22 July 2003 and had, following the Prestige disaster in 2002, committed themselves to strive to implement the provisions of the Directive before the above mentioned deadline.
As the Erika and the Prestige disasters proved, State controls in ports were inadequate prior to the adoption of the 2001 Directive. Previous rules included ordinary inspections only, which most of the time were just a relatively superficial examination of the condition of the vessel. Thus, ships that had been laid up on more than one occasion due to poor condition and flied flags of convenience were not banned and refused entry into EU ports, with all the consecutive risks that were incurred.
The Commission also decided to bring Italy to the Court of Justice for failure to communicate national measures transposing a 2002 Directive on marine equipment. The directive updates rules on equipment placed on board seagoing ships for which safety certificates are issued pursuant to international conventions and aims at ensuring the free movement of such equipment within the Community. Member States had to transpose this directive into their national law by March 23, 2003.