EC to Sue 8 Member States in Erika Aftermath

Thursday, December 16, 2004
The European Commission has decided to take Belgium, Greece, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Finland and the United Kingdom to the Court of Justice.

They failed to implement key EU legislation on vessel traffic monitoring and information systems which was adopted by the EU in the wake of the Erika accident. The aim of the infringed legislation is to enhance the safety of maritime traffic by improving the response of authorities to incidents, accidents and potentially dangerous situations at sea, therefore contributing to better prevention and detection of pollution by ships.

“Five years after the wreck of the Erika and three years after that of the Prestige, I am appalled that Member States delay the implementation of key measures to improve maritime safety. Countries need to define places of refuge in case of emergency and ensure the installation of black boxes on all ships”, said Jacques Barrot, Vice President responsible for Transport.

The 2002 directive[1] is an essential part of the legal instruments adopted by the EU in the wake of the accident with the oil tanker Erika in December 1999. It sets out the obligation to notify the maritime authorities, in particular in case a ship is carrying dangerous or polluting goods. The directive also provides for the monitoring of hazardous ships and for the intervention in the event of accidents at sea. In this context it sets out the obligation for Member States to draw up plans to accommodate ships in distress in the waters under their jurisdiction.

The eight Member States concerned failed to communicate all national measures transposing the Directive whereas they had to adopt the necessary legislation before 5 February 2004.

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