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Brussels, 21st March 2007

Vessel traffic monitoring and information system: Belgium targeted by the Commission

The European Commission sent today a reasoned opinion to Belgium due to its failure to comply with a decision of the Court of Justice. According to the decision of 15 December 2005, Belgium must take all measures necessary to transpose into national law a European directive on vessel traffic monitoring and information system. In spite of its efforts so far, Belgium's transposition remains incomplete more than three years after the original deadline (5 February 2004).

The Commission has decided to act against Belgium for failure to communicate national measures fully transposing a piece of EU legislation on shipping. The Directive in question aims to enhance the safety of maritime traffic by improving the response of authorities to incidents, accidents and potentially dangerous situations at sea and thus contribute to a better prevention and detection of pollution by ships.

The Directive is an essential part of the second maritime package adopted by the Community in the wake of the Erika disaster. It sets out the obligation to notify the maritime authorities, in particular in case a ship is carrying dangerous or polluting goods. The directive also provides for the monitoring of hazardous ships and for the intervention in the event of accidents at sea. In this context, it sets out the obligation for Member States to drawn up plans to accommodate ships in distress in their coastal waters.

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