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The EC Directive on Port State Control: A Policy Statement

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image of The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law

The central pillar of European Union policy concerning safety at sea is enforcement of existing international rules and regulations. The EC Directive on Port State Control is a reaction to the fact that, despite the implementation of Port State Control in 1982, the number of substandard ships in European ports has vastly increased. It became evident that the Member States of the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (MOU) were not applying the control scheme uniformly. Furthermore, the scheme was obsolete and needed extensive updating. In order to force EU Members to enhance the effectiveness of, and to obey, the rules and standards set, the EC introduced the Directive, which entered into force on 1 July 1996. The Directive sets forth a binding commitment to inspect at least 25 per cent of all ships entering a port and, by inference, an obligation to employ qualified staff proportional to the task. The European Commission will assist the Member States in training Port State Control Officers by granting subsidies. Ships operating under blacklisted flags are targeted as a priority. The practice of releasing a ship under the condition of rectifying the deficiencies in other yards is supplemented by a banning system. A ship that fails to show up at the designated shipyard will be banned from every European port until it proves full compliance with all applicable international rules to the authority that first detained it. The EC Directive also provides for the publication of the names of owners of detained ships, as well as the names of the responsible classification society, where relevant (e.g. not in cases of incompetent crews). Full compliance with all rules set forth by the Directive can now be enforced by means of EC law and procedures, with the Commission monitoring that each Member State applies the law strictly and correctly.

Affiliations: 1: Sea Pollution Department, European Commission


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