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Brussels, 26th June 2008

Maritime safety: the Commission takes measures against Italy and Slovakia

The Commission decided today to send reasoned opinions to Italy for failure to adequately implement EU legislation on port State control of shipping and to Slovakia for failure to respect EU legislation on ship-source pollution and on the introduction of penalties for persons responsible for polluting discharges.

The Commission sent a reasoned opinion to Italy for the incorrect implementation of a 1995 Directive[1], which was subsequently amended following, among others, the Erika accident. The Directive aims to reduce substandard shipping in Community waters by promoting compliance with international and Community legislation on maritime safety, establishing common criteria for control of ships by the port State and harmonizing procedures on inspection and detention.

More specifically, the Directive calls for the mandatory inspection at European ports of the most potentially dangerous ships. It allows however for a 5% non inspection of such ships, for operational reasons. For the years 2004-2006, Italy's non performance of mandatory inspections was more than twice the allowed rate.

The Commission has also decided to act against Slovakia for failure to transpose a Directive[2] adopted in 2005 into their national law. The Directive does not only concern coastal States but any Member State that has ships flying under its flag. It aims at ensuring that all persons responsible for polluting discharges at sea are subject to adequate penalties. These penalties should be effective and dissuasive and may be of criminal or administrative nature. Their application to any person found responsible for an infringement is expected to enhance the protection of the marine environment from pollution by ships and to improve maritime safety.

Member States should have transposed the Directive into their national law by 1 April 2007.

[1] Council Directive 95/21/EC of 19 June 1995 on port State control of shipping (OJ L 157, 7.7.1995, p. 1) as last amended by Directive 2002/84/EC.

[2] Directive 2005/35/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 September 2005 on ship-source pollution and on the introduction of penalties for infringements (OJ L 255, 30.9.2005., p. 11).

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