Brussels outlines action plan on ship safety

In the wake of the tanker disasters off Spain and the Shetlands over the winter, proposals for improving ship safety and reducing the risk of marine pollution were issued by the European Commission at the end of February.1 The main thrust of its Communication is to improve the implementation and enforcement of international shipping rules by the Member States. But unilateral EC action to bar vessels carrying dangerous cargoes from ecologically sensitive areas appears to have been discounted.

The Commission's proposals would greatly enhance the Community's role in ship safety and maritime pollution. But even though the Commission has made the now obligatory nods towards the principle of subsidiarity in its specific ideas for EC legislation, Member States with large shipping interests will be reluctant to concede too many powers to it. They are also likely to oppose the notion that the EC should become a full member of the Internati

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