The European Commission has today asked Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Poland, Portugal and the United Kingdom to adopt national legislation to implement the new port state control regime to comply with European Union law. The Commission’s request takes the form of a reasoned opinion under EU infringement procedures. If these Member States fail to inform the Commission within two months of the measures they have taken to ensure full compliance with EU law, the Commission could refer the case to the EU Court of Justice.

The EU rules

Following the “Erika” and “Prestige” accidents off the European coasts, EU legislation on port state control was adopted in 2009 under the third maritime safety package.This directive reinforces as of 1 January 2011, Member States’ obligations to inspect vessels calling at their ports. The new law requires more frequent inspections on ships posing a higher risk and extends the ban on substandard ships.

The reason for today’s action

Cyprus, Estonia, and Portugal have failed to notify the Commission of the measures taken to enforce the new directive on port state control although required to do so by 31 December 2010. Belgium, France, Poland and the United Kingdom have notified the Commission only of partial measures of implementation.

The practical effect of non-implementation

Non-implementation by some Member States lowers the level of security at sea and in the ports. It may also distort competition. The directive on port state control brings about major improvements in the elimination of substandard shipping from EU ports. To be fully effective, it requires joint efforts from all Member States. Indeed, with the new regime, the target for individual EU member countries to inspect 25% of foreign ships calling at their ports is replaced by a collective target for Europe as a whole to inspect 100% of ships calling at EU ports. The frequency of inspections depends on the ship risk profile. High-risk ships have to be inspected every six months, average-risk ships every twelve months and low-risk ships every three years, wherever they choose to call. Unless all Member States join in, this objective of checking 100% of ships cannot be achieved, thus posing a potential risk to shipping and to the environment.


EU infringement procedures, see MEMO/11/220

Directive 2009/16/EC on port state control

More details on the EU maritime transport policy:

Source – European Commission.

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