EU anti-shipping pollution rules blocked
Environment Daily 1758, 29/10/04
A planned EU framework for judicial cooperation for criminal prosecution of polluting ships was blocked by three Mediterranean member states on Tuesday. As a result of the stand by Greece, Malta and Cyprus, EU leaders will have to seek a deal when they meet in Brussels next week.
Based on a proposal made by the European Commission in 2003, the framework decision aims to approximate things like the level of penalties depending on the seriousness of pollution incidents. It aims to facilitate criminal investigations, for example by enabling multi-national investigation teams. It also includes rules to ensure that offences are effectively prosecuted.
The decision is designed to supplement a directive on ship-source pollution also proposed by the Commission and approved by EU governments this summer. This defines all ship pollution as an offence if it is committed with intent, recklessly or through serious negligence, and requires effective, proportional and dissuasive penalties.
When EU justice ministers discussed the framework decision in Brussels this week, the three Mediterranean states argued that it went too far beyond already agreed international rules, the Reuters news agency reported. Due to the measure's legal status, unanimous support from all 25 EU members is needed for it to pass.
Meanwhile, the International maritime organisation (IMO) environment committee met in London last week. A large area of the north-east Atlantic was approved in principle as a particularly sensitive sea area (PSSA). The change will bring special reporting rules for ships carrying certain cargoes.
The committee agreed that certain parts of IMO guidelines on ship recycling agreed in 2003 might be made mandatory. A working group agreed an initial list of elements that could be included in an IMO regulation. The committee also developed a draft reporting system for ships destined to be scrapped.
Amidst controversy over the respective responsibilities of developed and developing countries related to climate change, the committee agreed to continue work to develop guidelines for voluntary measurement of ships' carbon dioxide emissions. It agreed that a proposal on CO2 indexing by Norway, Germany and the UK provided "a good starting point". Trials with the system are to be carried out.
Follow-up: EU council of ministers http://ue.eu.int/cms3_fo/showPage.ASP?id=1&lang=EN&mode=g