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Maritime Safety: Commission requests the United Kingdom to comply with new safety rules and standards for passenger ships engaged in domestic voyages

The European Commission has recently asked the United Kingdom to adopt national legislation to implement the new safety rules and standards for passenger ships to comply with European Union law. If this Member State fails to inform the Commission within two months of the measures it has taken to ensure full compliance with EU law, the Commission could refer the case to the EU Court of Justice.

The EU rules

In 2010 the EU adopted a new Directive1 pertaining to safety rules and standards for passenger ships. The primary aim of this Directive was to provide an up-to-date European legislative framework which would take into account the latest measures agreed upon in the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). These include, among many other technical requirements, a ban on materials containing asbestos, the obligation to install emergency lighting to allow passengers to exit safely and the requirement to provide adequate life jackets for larger individuals.

The reason for recent action

The United Kingdom has failed to notify the Commission of all the measures taken to enforce the new Directive although required to do so by 29 June 2011. The United Kingdom has only notified the Commission of partial measures of implementation.

The practical effect of non-implementation

The objective of the EU Directive is to guarantee that the safety requirements for ships engaged in domestic voyages take into account the appropriate safety regulations laid down by the IMO for ships engaged in international voyages. Infringement procedures have been launched in 2011 against 13 member States and have led to reasoned opinions against 2 Member States - Italy on 24 November 20112 and now the United Kingdom. The failure of the United Kingdom to transpose the Directive undermines the EU's attempt to harmonize maritime safety regulations and keep them reflecting the highest standards.

More information on infringement procedures: MEMO/12/42

Contacts :

Helen Kearns (+32 2 298 76 38)

Dale Kidd (+32 2 295 74 61)

1 :

Directive 2010/36/EU:

2 :