Review of EU rules on passenger ship safety
On 6 June 2016, the Commission adopted a number of legislative proposals to simplify and improve the common rules on safety of ships carrying passengers in EU waters. The review is a response to lessons learnt, including from accidents, and technological progress. Its aim is to enhance safety and ensure that the competition takes place on equal footing. It does so by making the rules clearer, simpler and up-to-date with legal and technological developments.
The key changes to the safety standards and requirements for passenger ships sailing in EU waters include:
- The proposal amending Directive 2009/45/EC on technical requirements for passenger ships on domestic voyages clarifies that ships built in aluminium have to be certified according to this Directive and meet its fire safety requirements. It is also proposed to exclude ships below 24 metres from the scope of the Directive, for which its prescriptive standards proved to be difficult to adapt in practice. National rules for such ships can generally take better account of local circumstances.
- The proposal amending Directive 98/41/EC on registration of persons on board introduces the requirement to register passenger data in a digital manner, using harmonised administrative procedures (the so-called National Single Window established under Directive 2010/65/EU) to facilitate search and rescue operations in case of emergency. Currently data concerning persons on board is kept by the companies' registrar. The proposal also introduces flexibility for operators on shorter voyages.
- The proposal replacing and repealing Directive 1999/35/EC on surveys for passenger ferries and high-speed craft in regular service aims at eliminating overlaps between various inspection regimes. This will preserve the safety level while reducing the administrative burden on shipowners and rationalise the inspection efforts of Member States' authorities.
- Staff working documents:
The review delivers on the recommendations of the fitness check driven by the Commission's Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT ) Programme. The fitness check showed that the EU passenger ship safety legislation has resulted in improved safety of life but there is scope to remove outdated, ambiguous or disproportionate requirements, and to further improve the effectiveness of search and rescue operations. Results of the fitness check and the corresponding follow-up actions were described in the Commission's report , including the proposals for a review of EU rules on passenger ship safety, further detailed in the roadmap .
See also: "European Commission adopts proposals to simplify and improve passenger ship safety rules" (6/06/2016)
In the coming months, the Commission, assisted by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA ), will follow-up on the remaining recommendations of the fitness check, namely :
- At international level, the Commission will continue striving to improve the IMO rules for passenger ships in a damaged condition so that they remain longer afloat and allow safe return to port. Besides ro-ro passenger ships (already regulated in the EU), such upgrade would also increase the damage stability of cruise ships. The results of international debate [in the course of 2016] will determine further EU action in this respect.
- At EU level, the Commission will initiate a development of a new framework of goal-based standards for small passenger ships (i.e. smaller than 24m) built from innovative materials such as fibre-reinforced plastic, in view of creating a European market.
To support next steps and facilitate the exchange of views with national administrations, industry stakeholders and passenger associations, the Commission calls for applications of stakeholder organisations as observers to the expert group on passenger ship safety . The call is open until 1 August 2016.
EU passenger ship safety legislation
The most extensive EU legislative instrument is Directive 2009/45/EC , which covers passenger ships made of steel or equivalent material and high speed craft on domestic voyages. Where applicable and feasible, it is based on internationally agreed standards, namely the International Convention for the Safety of Life At Sea (SOLAS ), establishing detailed technical requirements on vessel construction, stability, fire protection and life-saving equipment. It also includes specific access and public information requirements for persons with reduced mobility or disabilities.
In addition, Directive 2003/25/EC provides for additional measures for ro-ro passenger vessels throughout the Union, engaged on both international and domestic voyages, to ensure their stability following damage. Moreover, specific EU rules governing the mandatory surveys for ro-ro passenger ships and high-speed craft operating on regular international or domestic service to or from EU ports are in place (Directive 1999/35/EC ). Shipping companies also need to comply with the requirements of Directive 98/41/EC on registration of persons on board, in order to make search and rescue operations more effective and to facilitate proper management of the consequences of any accident (medical care, insurance, etc.).
Passenger carriers' liability
Passengers involved in maritime accidents must have an adequate level of compensation for any loss or damage they suffer. To ensure this, ship owners must have appropriate insurance arrangements in place.
The Regulation on the liability of carriers of passengers by sea in the event of accidents ((EC) 392/2009) lays down harmonised rules on liability and insurance for shipping companies and aims at an adequate level of compensation should an accident occur. This applies irrespective of the area of operation of the vessel, thus to all carriers engaging in international carriage, including between EU Member States, and certain types of domestic carriage (over 5 miles from the coastline). Passengers may claim compensation for death or personal injury, loss or damage to luggage or valuables, vehicle and mobility or other special equipment, provided that one of the following requirements are fulfilled:
- the ship flies the flag of a Member State or is registered in a Member State, or
- the carriage agreement was concluded in a Member State, or
- the point of departure and/or destination specified in the carriage agreement are located in a Member State
Enforcement of the rights and obligations under the Regulation relies mainly on flag State and port State control, and the relevant systems available in the EU.
The Commission is currently evaluating the application of the Regulation (Roadmap published on 28/09/2015).
Evaluation of Regulation (EC) 392/2009
- Roadmap - Ex-post Evaluation of Regulation (EC) No 392/2009 on the liability of carriers of passengers by sea
Review of EU rules on passenger ship safety
- Proposal amending Directive 2009/45/EC [COM(2016)369]
- Proposal amending Directive 98/41/EC [COM(2016)370]
- Proposal replacing and repealing Directive 1999/35/EC [COM(2016)371]
- Implementation Plan [SWD(2016)189]
- Staff Working Document [SWD(2016)190]
- Roadmap - REFIT legislative review simplifying the EU passenger ship safety legislation
REFIT – Adjusting Course: EU Passenger Ship Safety Legislation Fitness Check
- Report from the Commission: "Adjusting Course: EU Passenger Ship Safety Legislation Fitness Check" [COM(2015) 508]
- Staff Working Document Accompanying the document Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and Council REFIT Adjusting course: EU Passenger Ship Safety Legislation Fitness Check [SWD(2015) 197]
- Targeted consultation on the simplification of EU passenger ship safety legislation (15/12/2015 – 26/01/2016) [260 KB]
- Workshop on the simplification of EU passenger ship safety legislation (2/02/2016) [164 KB]
- Passenger Ship Safety Stakeholder Conference (24/04/2012)
- Public consultation on a review of EU passenger ship safety legislation (consultation period: 13/04/2012 - 5/07/2012)
- Passenger Ship Safety expert working group
- Call for applications of stakeholder organisations as observers - deadline 1 August 2016
If you have any questions about the EU passenger ship safety legislation, please send an email to the Passenger Ship Safety Mailbox.