EC TO TIGHTEN MARITIME SAFETY, CREATE OIL SPILL FUND
The European Commission adopted on Wednesday (Dec. 6), a second package of measures to avoid a repeat of the “Erika” disaster, the high-profile sinking of an oil tanker off the French Atlantic coast last year.
The EC proposed to establish a maritime traffic control and information system, an oil pollution compensation fund, and a European Maritime Safety Agency.
The EC’s so-called “Erika II” policy package includes three proposals.
* Stricter control of maritime traffic to ensure that substandard ships do not escape the controls provided for in the first package of measures;
* Better compensation for coastal pollution damage, with the establishment of a European pollution damage compensation fund (COPE Fund) to provide additional compensation up to a ceiling of 1 billion euro ($860 million) for victims, where the current ceiling of 200 million euro ($172 million) under the existing rules is exceeded;
* Setting up a European Maritime Safety Agency to provide to the EC and EU member states support in applying and monitoring safety compliance, and to evaluate the effectiveness of the maritime safety measures introduced, including an evaluation and audit of maritime classification societies.
The current rules governing compensation for pollution damage caused by oil tankers were drawn up in the 1970s under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization. The European compensation fund would be financed by European firms which import oil, the EC said.