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EU Transport Council holds a key discussion on Maritime Safety Package

The EU Transport Council held a key debate on the Third Maritime Safety package in the light of a constant increase in maritime transport. "Raising standards together with a stricter implementation of international maritime safety conventions and a better care for the maritime environment are our responsibilities for the future generations. This is why further discussions on the Third Maritime Package and its timely adoption is the priority of the Slovenian Presidency," said the President of the EU Council, the Slovenian Transport Minister, Radovan Žerjav, during the debate.

In the last three months, the Slovenian Presidency has invested substantial efforts in efforts to find a compromise on the two remaining and toughest legislative proposals out of the seven which make up the package – Compliance with flag State requirements and civil liability of shipowners.

"I think I can say that all Member States support the objectives of both directives. We agree that shipping is mainly an international activity. The key issue is therefore how to strike a balance between regional and international measures," said Minister Žerjav after the Council meeting.

As far as the directive on flag state is concerned – the proposal remains on the table; however, the Slovenian Presidency today did not receive the necessary political support that would enable the continuation of the work on the original Commission proposal. The proposal did not receive the qualified majority support.

However, the Member States have made a commitment to perform the so-called voluntary audit of flag state within the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as soon as possible. At the same time, they will strive to adopt appropriate measures within the IMO in order for the IMO state flag audit to become mandatory at international level as well. By doing this, a level playing field in the area of international commitments worldwide would be ensured.

Another proposal - the proposal for a directive on civil liability and financial guarantees of shipowners - did also not receive the qualified majority support today. On the other hand, the Member States have undertaken to ratify the 1996 Protocol to the IMO Convention on Limitation of Liability on Maritime Claims (the so-called LLMC 1996) and to fully implement its provisions.

"This decision will enable us to continue our work with the European Parliament on the other legislative proposals from the Third Maritime Package which already have the political agreement of the Council. This would in turn improve maritime safety across Europe," said Minister Žerjav.


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Date: 11.04.2008