Brussels, 13 September 2010
Maritime Safety: Commission prepares major improvement of technical inspections of ships in European ports
What are the current rules of shipping inspection?
It is the responsibility of Flag States (country exercising regulatory control over commercial vessel) to certify that vessels satisfy international safety requirements. Currently, 25% of vessels calling at Member State ports are inspected. The purpose is to improve maritime safety in EU waters by attempting to ban substandard ships. Vessels which have already been inspected within the previous six months are exempt.
The exchange of information between Member States is regulated under Directive 95/21 and the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on port state control, an international agreement by means of which the EU shares port state control efforts with Canada, Croatia, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation and Slovenia.
Why is it important to change the rules of shipping inspections?
Each year, European ports register more than 80,000 individual ship calls. Traffic of dangerous goods (oil, chemicals, harmful materials) and passenger ships is constant. Denying entry or banning sub-standard ships in European ports is still common.
The regime of technical inspections of ships (port state control) is of crucial importance to prevent maritime accidents, the loss of life at sea, pollution caused by ships and maritime working and living conditions. Member States devote significant inspection resources to ensure that those ships respect the relevant standards and can operate safely in all circumstances.
Moreover, the current regime still operates with a "national logic" i.e. the selection of the 25% of ships for inspection is determined by national authorities, making the analysis on a pan European level difficult.
These efforts will increase from January 2011 where the banning provisions will be extended and shipping companies and Flag States will be monitored more exhaustively. The new port state control inspection regime relies on an advanced information system, known as "THETIS", which will be operated by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).
What is the European Commission proposing?
Regulation on Company Performance
The new Regulation on company performance provides the methodology to rank shipping companies in function of the number of deficiencies detected in the technical inspections to ships they own. The ranking of the company is a factor determining the frequency of inspections. It is also an indicator of the commitment of the company to safety standards. Companies with good records will benefit of less inspections. Companies presenting higher risks will be subject to very frequent inspections. This ranking will be made public on a website and updated daily.
Regulation on Flag Performance
The flag of a ship (flag of the state with jurisdiction over the ship) is a crucial element for establishing the ship risk profile which determines the priority for inspection in European Union ports. The new Regulation on Flag Performance details the criteria for calculating the risk profile in question. The criteria have been established by the EMSA.
What is THETIS?
THETIS is an advanced information system, which will track every ship calling into EU ports as well as the safety record of Flag States, individual shipping companies and other key actors. The system will improve the effectiveness and quality of the visits and inspections carried out by the port State in European ports, while concentrating on the more dubious ships and alleviating the pressure on the high quality ships.
Via THETIS the information will be made available to all port state control authorities that have signed up to the Paris Memorandum of Understanding (Paris MoU), an international agreement by means of which the EU shares port state control efforts with Canada, Croatia, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation and Slovenia.
THETIS provides full transparency, by making the information available and daily updated on a public website.
What are the next steps?
The new regime will enter into force on 1 January 2011 and will involve EU wide harmonisation of port state control inspection standards, as currently exists, as well as, for the first time, a fully co-ordinated control of all the port state safety inspections carried out in the EU.
The pan-European system of co-ordination and analysis will allow for a more effective use of inspection resources in ports and in particular the more effective the targeting of high risk ships and companies with low safety performance. The online register will list companies whose safety performance has been low or very low for a period of three months or more. Ships on the register which are operated by companies with bad safety records of deficiencies and detentions will be subject to very frequent inspections while ships operated by companies with good records will benefit of less inspections.
The new Regime also strengthens the EU's ability to push sub-standard ships out of European waters, making it possible to ban any categories of ships, inserting a minimum time limit for a ban and introducing a permanent ban for those ships, which continue to flout the rules.
Annex 1: Facts and figures on maritime accidents in EU waters in 2009
Annex 2: Map of maritime accidents in EU waters in 2009
See also: IP/10/1115
Facts and figures on maritime accidents in EU waters
Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED
Map of maritime accidents in EU waters in 2009
For more information on port state control visit:
The company performance calculator:
More details on the EU Maritime Transport Policy: