Port Security Conference

May 8, 2003

EC makes sweeping maritime security proposals
The European Commission is proposing regulations on maritime and port security that, it says, go beyond IMO requirements. In particular, the Commission proposals will cover vessels engaged in domestic as well as international trade.

Any ship can be deliberately used as a weapon or be a carrier of weapons of mass destruction, warns the Commisssion. It therefore considers that there is a need to enhance the security of the entire maritime transport chain, from the supplier to the consumer. It has thus adopted a Communication and a proposal for a regulation to ensure the obligatory application throughout the European Union (EU) of the highest security standards on maritime transport, as agreed in IMO.

While the IMO requirements apply to international commercial shipping, and to port facilities that serve it. The new requirements proposed by the European Commission for a strengthened security will also apply to passenger ships carrying out domestic voyages. And the IMO requirements for security assessments, the drawing-up of security plans and the designation of company and ship security officers will be extended to other ships used for domestic traffic

The proposed EU regulation also "foresees a process of inspections supervised by the Commission to verify the harmonized implementation of these new security rules throughout the EU."

"The current geopolitical climate requires an urgent and effective implementation in Europe of what has been agreed at world level to ensure the highest possible levels of security for seamen, ships, ports and the whole intermodal transport chain" said Loyola de Palacio, Vice-President of the Commission, responsible for transport and energy.

She added: "Security and safety are one of the main priorities of this Commission: our citizens require concrete measures to this respect"

In its Communication, the Commission has drawn on the conclusions of the IMO Diplomatic Conference of December 12, 2002. These, says the EC, "will enable significant advances in the security of ships and those port installations dedicated to international trade."

However, the EC says that "further additional work is needed in other international arenas, including within the EU, to ensure the problems are comprehensively covered and to avoid recourse to bilateral initiatives such as those developed by some third countries." [Presumably, that means the U.S.!]

The Commission's Communication thus goes further than the framework on ship security and port installations covered by IMO, and, says the EC, "opens the debate on the entirety of maritime transport."

In particular it addresses port zones as a whole, the identification of seafarers, and also the security of the whole intermodal transport chain.

The Commission stresses the need for EU Member States to apply effectively the measures adopted by the international authorities "in order to encourage third countries to recognise our levels of security and provide reciprocal measures."

Principally consisting of preventive measures, the proposed regulation is based on Chapter XI-2 "special measures to enhance maritime safety" of SOLAS Convention and the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code).

The EC proposal gives Community interpretations of the "open" mandatory dispositions of the IMO (application to short-sea shipping, cases of ports only occasionally serving international routes, a control regime for ship security prior to any ship entering an EU port, as well as security checks in port).

The regulation goes beyond the measures adopted by IMO in that it;

  • Makes obligatory some requirements that are only recommendations, in order to raise the level of security sought and to avoid divergences of interpretation between Member States
  • Requires a national authority to be responsible for the security of ships and port installations, and also a swifter timetable for implementation of some of the terms of the regulation than foreseen by the IMO agreement.
  • Foresees an inspection process supervised by the Commission to verify the means of control and the implementation of national plans adopted within the framework of this regulation
  • Gives the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) a role in assisting the Commission in the execution of its tasks
  • Adapts various terms adopted in the IMO framework to the benefit of the national maritime traffic within Member States
  • Extends all the requirements of Chapter XI-2 of the SOLAS Convention and Part A of the ISPS Code to passenger ships on national routes where they sail further than 20 nautical miles beyond the coasts.
  • Extends to other ships sailing nationally the requirements of the texts relating to undertaking safety evaluations, establishing safety plans, and designating safety agents for companies and for ships. It foresees adaptation of the procedures for ships on regular services.

    In the months to come, the Commission:
  • Will present a proposed directive defining the complementary measures to put in place in EU ports;
  • Will support, in conjunction with Member States, the work of the International Labour Organization (ILO) concerning increasing security in identifying mariners, and will take, as necessary, a legislative initiative in the matter, following the adoption of a text by the ILO, foreseen for June 2003.

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