IMO and EC in high-level Prestige talks

IMO Secretary-General Mr. William O'Neil is to travel to Brussels this Tuesday to meet the Vice-President of the European Commission, Mrs. Loyola de Palacio, to discuss action contemplated to be taken in the aftermath of the Prestige accident off the NW coast of Spain in November 2002.

Mr. O'Neil has proposed that the focus of the meeting should be on:

· the measures which need to be taken to prevent recurrence of Prestige-type accidents (the outcome of the investigation into the casualty should be taken into account when these are being finalized);
· the need to have any such measures fully analysed and their implications (technical, legal and economic) thoroughly examined so that decisions could then be made against the background of an adequate global picture of the situation;
· the recognition that IMO is the correct forum to address issues stemming from the Prestige accident related to the elaboration and adoption of any regulatory measures affecting shipping engaged in international trade from the maritime safety and pollution prevention and control points of view required to remedy the situation, as had been done in previous cases; and
· the ways and means to introduce such measures at IMO so that they can be dealt with in the most expeditious manner and also the steps which need to be taken next in order to give effect to any proposals which may be made regarding the Prestige incident.

Mr. O'Neil notes that the expeditious and successful way IMO acted on safety, environmental protection and liability and compensation proposals submitted in the aftermath of the Erika disaster in 1999 indicates that an equally prompt reaction to any proposals submitted by Governments to prevent Erika or Prestige-type incidents recurring in the future would be assured.

This will be Mr. O'Neil's second visit to EU officials following his visit in early January to the Greek Minister of Mercantile Marine, Mr. Yiorgos Anomeritis, in his capacity as President of the European Union Maritime Transport Ministers' Council.

Mr. O'Neil will be accompanied by senior IMO officials.

3 March 2003


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