Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Towards passenger ship safety

There has been lots of talk in the European institutions (and as a result on this blog) about the protection that air passengers receive in Europe. Today the EU Transport Commissioner, Siim Kallas, presented the European Commission's priorities for passenger ship safety (Transport: Commission sets out priorities for passenger ship safety). After all, despite the raising popularity of the air travel this is not the only method of travelling that Europeans make use of.

The EU Commission intends to promote voluntary industry measures. For example, today the European Cruise Council committed itself to undertake more strict than legally necessary measures with regard to, among others, route planning, security of bridge access, access to life jackets on board (Cruise Industry Announces Three New Safety Policies at EU Conference). The European Cruise Council intends to appoint four independent experts to oversee the process and monitor progress and implementation of such measures.

The EU Commission plans to intensify enforcement actions to make sure that safety rules are being implied in practice. The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) will give a hand in organising inspections, e.g., of proper registration of passengers on board.

Finally, certain regulatory measures are under consideration. For example, the new proposal on domestic passenger ship safety rules is planned for the end of 2012, which would broaden the application of existing EU rules to ships other than only constructed out of steel (lots of touristic ships are smaller and not made of steel). Another proposal is considered as far as EU passenger ship stability rules for roll-on roll-off ferries are concerned. Stability is particularly important for these ferries since water on deck is more common. The new proposal would focus on rules that would lead to improving stability after damage. In the future, regulation of cruise and ropax ship stability is also feasible.

Until 5 July 2012 public consultations are conducted with stakeholders of the industry. Legislative proposals are expected before the end of 2012.

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