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Safer sea travel: deal with EP on digitalising passenger information

The presidency yesterday reached an informal agreement with the European Parliament on new rules to digitalise the registration of ship passengers. The purpose is to make the exact number of passengers and other information immediately available for search and rescue services in the event of an accident. At present, valuable minutes may be lost because the data on people on board is stored by the shipping company, and the search and rescue centre has to get hold of the company's contact person to obtain this information. In digital form, the information will be directly accessible.

To make it easier to assist victims and their relatives, the recorded data will include passengers' nationality. The current rules already require the shipping company to register the name, date of birth, gender, and - if the passenger so wishes - the need for special assistance in an emergency.

"Travelling by ship in the EU is very safe, but in case something happens, we must make sure that we know immediately how many are missing - perhaps lying in the water or trapped on board. In addition to names, we also need to know their nationalities so that authorities are able to contact relatives and embassies. These new rules make that possible", said Ian Borg, the Maltese Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects.

Under the new requirements, data will be sent to the relevant authority in electronic format within 15 minutes of the ship's departure. Two means of transmission, the National Single Windows or the Automatic Identification System, can be used, subject to certain conditions.

Member states will have two years from the directive's entry into force to incorporate the new rules in their national legislation.

The draft directive agreed yesterday is part of a broader review of EU legislation on passenger ship safety, which aims to make travelling by sea safer while simplifying the rules and cutting administrative costs.

The presidency will submit the outcome of yesterday's negotiations for approval by member states in the coming weeks.


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