EC Vows to Toughen Maritime Safety

Monday, January 06, 2003
The European Commission (EC) has adopted rules prohibiting transport of heavy fuel in single hull tankers and setting an earlier date for phase-out of single hull tankers. Further work is planned with regard to clarification of legal responsibility for maritime accidents. On January 2, French President Jacques Chirac and Commission President Romano Prodi discussed the issue of maritime safety. This followed the collision of the Turkish tanker Vicky with a sunken carrier off the French coast on Wednesday. The tanker was transporting 70,000 tons of highly flammable kerosene.

Against the backdrop of this accident and the ongoing oil pollution caused by the accident of the tanker "Prestige" off the Spanish coast last November, both presidents agreed that maritime safety remained far from satisfactory. In particular, legal responsibility for maritime accidents was unclear and new legislation was urgently needed. President Prodi underlined the Commission's commitment to present further proposals aimed at strengthening maritime safety at the beginning of 2003. The Commission already announced proposals on maritime safety in a communication of December 2002. Already on December 21, 2002 the Commission adopted a first set of rules prohibiting the transport of heavy fuel in single hull tankers and setting an earlier date for the phase-out of single hull tankers. The Commission will now propose to clarify legal responsibility for maritime accidents. These proposals are fully in line with the conclusions of the December Transport Minister's Council and the European Council.

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