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Brussels, 17 December 2012
Commission proposes a new framework for marine equipment
The European Commission has proposed a revision of the Directive on marine equipment, a sector fundamental for ship safety and in which the EU has been a world leader. With the newly proposed regime, the Commission aims at strengthening the implementation and enforcement mechanisms, in order to guarantee the proper functioning of the internal market for marine equipment, while ensuring a high level of safety at sea and prevention of marine pollution. At the same time the procedures and regulatory framework will be simplified, which is expected to boost the competitiveness of the EU's industry in this sector.
What are the current rules?
The current Directive on marine equipment (Directive 96/98/EC) aims at governing the internal market for marine equipment, by ensuring a harmonised application of the International Maritime organisation (IMO) standards and establishing a uniform conformity-checking procedure.
This directive follows the general EU's New Approach philosophy for legislation in the field of the free movement of goods, adapted to a number of important specificities of the marine equipment sector such as the following:
What is the problem?
Experience in the implementation of the current legislation has highlighted a number of weaknesses in the regime:
1) very weak control of the certifying bodies (notified bodies) by the Member States;
2) a weak system of market surveillance;
3) heavy safeguard mechanisms.
Furthermore, significant difficulty has been created by the lengthy and cumbersome procedure to keep the Directive's requirements in line with the evolving IMO standards, which currently requires the periodic amendment of the Annexes of the Directive by comitology and subsequent transposition into national law.
The transposition process of IMO rules creates legal uncertainty and imposes an excessive burden on industry and national administrations. As a result the EU system has always lagged behind the IMO.
All these have a significant impact on safety and on the good functioning of the internal market for marine equipment.
What are we proposing?
The proposal that was adopted by the Commission today has two general objectives:
1) to enhance the implementation and enforcement mechanisms of the MED, and
2) to simplify the regulatory environment.
More specifically, the proposal aligns the current regime with the New Legislative Framework for the free movement of goods (Regulation 765/2008/EC and Decision 768/2008/EC), by introducing provisions on the control of notified bodies and market surveillance, as well as obligations for manufacturers, importers and distributors, with certain adjustments specific for the marine equipment sector.
Furthermore the wheel mark for marine equipment has been retained to demonstrate compliance with the requirements of the Directive, while the possibility has been opened to supplement the wheel mark or replace it by an electronic tag.
Finally, the proposal addresses the pressing problem of inadequate and incomplete implementation of IMO standards by Member States, which has been leading to safety risks and inefficient functioning of the internal market for marine equipment.
What are the benefits?
Improved implementation and enforcement of the rules on marine equipment will contribute to a proper functioning of the internal market for such equipment, while ensuring a high level of safety at sea and prevention of marine pollution.
The possibility to supplement or replace the wheel mark with an electronic tag is expected to facilitate control by the Port State and to help combat counterfeit.
A simplified regulatory framework, with clear and harmonised rules across the EU, will furthermore strengthen the competitiveness of the Union's industry.
What are the next steps?
The proposal will be negotiated with the Council during the Irish Presidency, and all efforts will be made to achieve political agreement with the Parliament.