Brussels, 3 June 2010
The European Commission has sent today a reasoned opinion to the Irish authorities for failing to properly implement 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. The Republic of Ireland 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 harmonising procedures on inspection and detention.
In order to implement these rules, Member States must monitor the ships that enter their ports and identify those which should be subject to mandatory inspections. The percentage of these ships which Member States may fail to inspect should not exceed 5 %.
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 formal request ("reasoned opinion")
The Commission action was initiated following an inspection visit to Ireland by the European Maritime Safety Agency. 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 Ireland does not fully meet its obligations under the directive, in particular by failing to identify all vessels entering its ports and by not imposing penalties in practice.
The practical effect of non-implementation
This lack of compliance with the port state control directive may endanger maritime safety with the risks this implies for the environment.