EU in ship sulphur and bathing water deals
Environment Daily 1696, 28/06/04, 1697 29/06/04
EU environment ministers reached political agreement on laws to curb sulphur in marine fuels and streamline bathing water rules at the Luxembourg environment council meeting on 28 June. But they failed to clinch an expected deal on revised EU waste shipments controls.
SULPHUR IN SHIP FUEL:
Ministers broadly backed European Commission proposals tabled in November 2002 aimed at cutting acidifying sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions from ships.
Under the deal, in the internationally agreed SO2 control areas of the North Sea, English Channel and Baltic Sea, all ships will be limited to using maximum 1.5% sulphur fuels from 2007, or May 2006 in the case of the Baltic. The Commission had proposed applying the limit from one year after the directive's entry into force.
The 1.5% sulphur limit will apply to passenger ships travelling between EU ports from May 2006 rather than July 2007 as the Commission proposed. Ministers agreed to introduce a single stage 0.1% sulphur limit on inland vessels and ships at berth in January 2010.
Italy voted against, having tried to delay stricter fuel sulphur limits for passenger ships until 2010. The Italian government wants to promote sea freight transport. Its delegation complained that the agreed definition of passenger ship as a vessel carrying at least 12 people plus the crew would also cover a ship carrying 12 lorries and their drivers.
The council agreed streamlined controls on pollution in registered public bathing waters, overcoming long-standing internal disagreements. The German government welcomed the deal, claiming victory for its efforts to prevent other countries from diluting the directive.
In line with the Commission's proposal, member states will have to monitor just two microbiological water quality parameters: intestinal enterococci and escherischia coli. For inland bathing waters, the deal maintains present health protection standards at 360 enterococci and 900 escherischia coli per 100 millilitres. For coastal waters it strengthens the standard to 200 enterococci and 500 escherischia coli.
Ministers agreed that member states will have until 2015 to classify bathing waters into four categories. Talks are not finally resolved over whether the third category should be "satisfactory" or "adequate". The others are excellent, good and poor. From 2015, if a bathing water is classed as poor for five years in a row, a bathing ban could be introduced.
Environment ministers unexpectedly failed to adopt a revised regulation on cross-border waste shipments due to a stand-off over the proposal's legal base. The European Commission continued to demand that both the environment and international trade articles of the EU treaty be cited, whereas governments want to cite the environment article alone.
However, they could not reach unanimity, as required in cases of disagreement with the Commission, because Italy said it was still consulting on the proposal and would not have a formal position until the second half of 2004. The Dutch presidency - which was not expecting to have to deal with the waste shipments regulation - will now have to pick up the dossier.
EU council of ministers http://ue.eu.int/showPage.ASP?lang=en ,
European Commission statement on sulphur in ship fuels http://europa.eu.int/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/04/810&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en ,
German environment ministry statement on bathing waters http://www.bmu.de/de/800/js/presse/2004/pm194/ ,