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European Union: New Rules on Maritime Safety Proposed

(Sept. 17, 2010) On September 13, 2010, the European Commission introduced new rules to improve the safety performance of seagoing vessels. The Commission will establish and operate a public database that will publish the names of shipping companies with poor or low performances on safety inspections. Companies that perform well will be given public credit. The database will be operational on January 1, 2011. On that date, Directive 2009/16/EC on Port State Control will be in force. It is designed to harmonize the safety inspections carried out in ports throughout the EU. Under the existing regime, only 25% of vessels that call at EU ports are subject to inspection by national authorities. Another drawback of the current system is that due to the limited coordination between national authorities, inspection results are not analyzed and communicated at the EU level. The new rules will target high-risk vessels operated by companies with low performance records. Such vessels will be subject to more frequent and vigorous inspections. The objective is to prevent maritime disasters, loss of life, and damage to the environment. (Press Release, Maritime Safety: New EU Rules to “Name and Shame” Shipping Companies with Poor Safety Records, IP/10/1115 (Sept. 13, 2010),

Sim Kallas, EU Vice President for Transport, stated that:

safety is the first priority of the EU. … We want to shine a light on the safety records of shipping companies, flag states and certification organizations. More transparency in this sector will showcase companies with a strong safety records [sic] giving them a competitive advantage. The register will also put poor performers in their spotlight so that with tougher inspection regimes and public pressure there is every incentive for them to raise their game rather than face a ban from EU waters. (Id.)