Brussels, 5 May 2010
Maritime safety: Commission sends a reasoned opinion to Malta on port state control
The European Commission sent today a reasoned opinion to the Maltese authorities for failure to implement properly the EU directive on port state control. This Directive is a core instrument in the field of maritime safety, aimed at fighting substandard shipping in the European Union. Malta is required to comply with the request within two months, failing which the case may go before the European Court of Justice.
The EU rules
Directive 95/21/EC on port state control aims to reduce substandard shipping in Community waters by establishing common criteria for the control of ships by any port state and harmonizing procedures on inspection and detention.
In order to help monitor the implementation of EU rules, Member States must inform the Commission of the number of individual ships that enter their ports and of the number of inspectors available.
The directive also requires establishing a system of effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties in the event of infringements of the national implementing measures. For instance, penalties should be imposed if a master fails to notify compulsory information to the port authorities to escape inspection.
The reason for today's action
The Commission action was initiated following an inspection visit by the European Maritime Safety Agency in Malta. These visits are part of a monitoring programme by the Commission designed to assess how the directive is implemented in practice in each Member State.
The Commission considers that Malta failed to provide the Commission with the information requested (number of ship calls and number of inspectors) and failed to impose penalties.
The practical effect of non-implementation
This lack of compliance with the port state control directive endangers maritime safety with the risks this implies for the environment.