Safety of passenger ships: EU Transport Commissioner receives commitment from Cruise industry
Vice-President Siim Kallas, European Commissioner for Transport today was briefed by the board of the European Cruise Council about cruise ship safety. Vice President Kallas announced that the Commission strongly supports a passenger ship safety review at IMO (International Maritime Organisation) to ensure that European citizens can expect state of the art safety measures in place – no matter where they board a passenger ship. The EU Transport Commissioner outlined the need for a twin-track approach with the IMO. Following its ongoing passenger ship safety review, the EU will either propose re-enforcing recent IMO standards or propose new EU minimum norms, some of which could form the basis for new IMO standards.
Vice President Siim Kallas said, ‚I welcome and endorse the ongoing commitment of the European Cruise Council and its members to actively pursue a high level of safety on board all their vessels and to support ongoing legislative reviews. The recent tragic accident of the Costa Concordia provides additional impetus to review and improve safety arrangements on board. I understand that the industry is undertaking a review of its operational safety practices and procedures, including navigation, evacuation, emergency training and related practices and procedures.
I stressed that any lessons learned must be shared both with the Commission and the International Maritime Organisation. Safety is the top priority. Passengers must be sure that the same high safety standards will apply wherever and whenever they travel. We need an international review at IMO level, to complement the passenger ship safety review currently ongoing within the EU, ensures that any lessons learnt on safety, are applied not only in Europe, but to passenger ships across the board.
What happens next?
The Commission services will launch a public consultation process on the passenger ship safety, legislative review, during spring 2012 (April 2012).
The Vice President will host, in spring 2012 a conference with stakeholders on the Safety of Passenger Ships.
Following the Costa Concordia accident, the IMO has announced that it will consider issues relating to the safety of passenger ships, at the IMO Maritime Safety Committee meeting from 16-25 May 2012.
The Commission will bring forwards, if necessary, proposals to adapt existing rules on the safety of passenger ship safety to new developments in the sector before the end of the year. The Vice President will provide more detail about the possible content and timing of his proposals before Summer 2012.
European Passenger Ship Safety Legislation –the current rules
There are robust rules in place at international (International Maritime Safety Organisation, IMO) and EU levels, governing the construction and the safety procedures for passenger ships, strict certification and inspection requirements as well as rules on the liability of carriers and compensation of victims. But ship design and operation of ships continue to evolve significantly. For this reason, the Commission has been working, since 2010, on a review of EU legislation on passenger ships to ensure it keeps pace with the latest evolution in design, operational procedures and technology used in this sector. That work must now fully take into account any lessons to be learnt from the Costa Concordia.
Questions to be prioritised in the review include the following:
Stability: Do the current stability rules on passenger ships need further updating? In particular, in relation to ships, damaged and/or exposed to bad weather conditions.
Design of ships and technical evolution: Do safety standards need adaptation in line with the new technical developments in this sector, new materials used, recent evolution in the design of passenger ships, types of engines used?
Evacuation: How can one ensure that passenger lists are accurate and up to date, in line with existing rules? How can new technologies or equipment reinforce plans and procedures for evacuation? Can the EU build on or support further the work being done at international level by the IMO in this area?
Scope of EU Legislation: Should the scope of existing EU passenger ship safety provisions be extended to cover more types of ships for domestic voyages (eg for passenger sailing ships or historic ships)?
Qualifications and training of crew: Is there more that can be done, for example, in terms of communication of crew with passengers, rescue services and with each other?