11 - 17 April 2001

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EU divided on Erika II package

The 15 European Union member states were divided late last week over a series of proposals by the European Commission designed to improve maritime safety in Europe.

The proposals, known as the Erika II package, are the second part of a package of maritime regulations proposed last December by the Commission.

The Erika packages were introduced a year after the infamous Erika sank off the French coast in December 1999, spilling thousands of tonnes of oil onto beaches.

The other EU members, including Denmark, where an oil spill occurred last week, said with varying levels of support that any new measures should be adopted on the international level.

The Erika II package includes the setting up of a European compensation fund for oil-spill victims as well as a maritime safety European agency.

The package would also give port authorities the power to prohibit ships from leaving port during storms, a decision that currently rests with the captain.

The Erika I package was approved by EU transportation ministers last December but is still awaiting approval by the European Parliament.

That package would give the EU power to ban from its waters about 4,400 ships that have a history of safety violations and would extend liability in case of an accident to include agencies that certify if ships are seaworthy.

The package also includes regulations for the phasing-out of single hulled oil tankers between 2003 and 2015 and would require mandatory installation of a "black box", similar to those used in aeroplanes, in ships within the next five years.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt