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Maritime transport: Modern marine equipment rules for safer EU ships

Date: 19/05/2014

The European Parliament has adopted the Commission's proposed new Directive on marine equipment. Better rules on marine equipment in the EU will result in safer journeys for the ships and their crew, less red tape for Member States, reduced costs for business, and increased competitiveness of the EU industry.

European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said "These new rules are an important development in this sector as marine equipment represents a significant fraction of the value of a ship, and its quality and safe operation are critical for the safety of the ship and its crew. It is equally important for the prevention of maritime accidents and pollution of the marine environment".

The law that has been adopted contains three main innovations:

The possibility to introduce an electronic tag or electronic wheel mark: This is an electronic version of the wheel mark proof of conformity for compliant marine equipment traded within the European Economic Area. The electronic tag should be cheaper for users and administrations to deal with than the physical mark, which can be hard to affix on products. The electronic version can be read at a distance and will help with stock control, market surveillance and the fight against counterfeit equipment.

Administrative simplification: a simpler system for the transposition of International Maritime Organisation (IMO) requirements into EU law will decrease the administrative burden on Member States. Furthermore, clear and harmonised rules across the EU will strengthen the competitiveness of Europe's industry.

Law revision: the new directive addresses the problems encountered in the current Directive, which dates from 1996, such as weak market surveillance. as well as obligations for manufacturers, importers and distributors (with certain adjustments specific for the marine equipment sector).

Background information

The marine equipment sector has a significant economic impact in Europe, with some 6000 companies involved in marine equipment manufacturing employing some 300.000 people.

Depending on the type of vessel, the value of marine equipment makes 40% to 80% of the value of a new ship, therefore an important financial component for the industry working in the sector. The certification that marine equipment is fit for purpose is critical for the safety of the ship and its crew as well as for the marine environment.

The marine equipment industry is a high added-value sector with high levels of investment in research and development.

Next steps

Following the vote in the European Parliament, the Council is expected to endorse the text as adopted by the Parliament, in accordance with the informal agreement reached between the two institutions in February 2014. The new Directive is expected to be adopted towards the end of 2014 and become applicable two years later.

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