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Brussels, 24 June 2010

Maritime safety: Commission sends formal request to Portugal to step up port state control

The European Commission has sent a formal request to Portugal to implement properly the EU Directive on port state control, in particular as regards the imposition of penalties on ships that fail to meet EU safety standards. This Directive is a core instrument in the field of maritime safety, aimed at fighting substandard shipping in the European Union. Portugal has two months to comply with the request, which takes the form of a reasoned opinion under EU infringement procedures, failing which the Commission may refer Portugal to the EU's Court of Justice.

EU port state control rules

Directive 95/21/EC on port state control aims to reduce substandard shipping in EU waters by establishing common criteria for the control of ships by any port state and harmonising procedures on inspection and detention of ships failing to meet the required standards.

The Directive 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.

Situation in Portugal

The Commission action was initiated following an inspection visit by the European Maritime Safety Agency in Portugal. These visits are part of a monitoring programme by the Commission to assess how the Directive is implemented in practice in each Member State.

The Commission considers that Portugal does not meet its obligations under the Directive 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.

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