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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 21 June 2012

Maritime safety: European Commission sends Reasoned Opinion to Finland on insurance of ship owners

The Commission has addressed today a reasoned opinion to Finland for failure to communicate transposition measures on insurance of ship owners for maritime claims. The obligation to have insurance ensures better protection for victims in case of a ship-related accident. If Finland fails to notify the Commission, within two months of the measures taken to ensure full compliance with EU law, the Commission may refer the case to the European Court of Justice.

The EU rules

In 2009 the EU adopted a new Directive1 whereby ship owners are obliged, by 1 January 2012, to hold sufficient insurance cover for their ships flying European flags or entering EU ports. The Directive is part of the third maritime safety package2 adopted by the Parliament and the Council in 2009.

The reason for launching a formal complaint

Finland has failed to notify the Commission of any measures making insurance coverage of ships in the EU compulsory, although required to do so by 31 December 2011. Finland has taken note of its obligation to adopt the relevant measures in its written communication with the Commission; however, it has not communicated the text of any such measures or a concrete adoption time-table.

The practical effect of non-implementation

The objective of this EU Directive is to improve the quality of merchant shipping by making all economic operators act more responsibly. The obligation to have insurance ensures better protection for victims, helps eliminate substandard shipping, and re-establishes competition between operators. The failure of Finland to transpose the insurance Directive undermines the EU's attempt to harmonise maritime safety regulations reflecting the highest standards.

The last step of infringement procedure

In the event that Finland does not notify the Commission of the adoption of the necessary transposition measures within two months of receipt of this reasoned opinion, the Commission will bring the case before the European Court of Justice.

For more information please see: MEMO/12/464

Contacts :

Helen Kearns (+32 2 298 76 38)

Dale Kidd (+32 2 295 74 61)

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