Joint communiqué

On the outcome of the meeting between the Vice-President of the European Commission, Mrs. Loyola de Palacio, responsible for relations with the European Parliament, Transport and Energy and the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization, Mr. William O'Neil
(Brussels, 4 March 2003)

Following a meeting between the Vice-President of the European Commission Mrs. Loyola de Palacio, responsible for relations with the European Parliament, Transport & Energy and the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization Mr. William O'Neil, they both expressed satisfaction with the positive and constructive manner and outcome of their consultations concerning the objectives to be achieved in the aftermath of the accident.

Emphasizing the need for shipping to continue to be regulated by global standards, while, at the same time, recognizing the actions, the role and the responsibilities of the European Union, in particular the actions required to be undertaken in the context of the Prestige for a better coastal protection, the two parties concurred that the opportunity should be seized, as soon as possible, for IMO to further enhance the prevention of pollution from tankers at the world-wide level.

Mrs. de Palacio stated that, having regard to the obligations under the European Treaty and the role of the European Commission within the European Union and taking account of the decisions already taken by the European Parliament and EU-Council of Ministers, as soon as the EU Institutions have formulated their position in response to the Prestige accident, appropriate measures would be proposed to IMO by the EU to revise the MARPOL Convention with respect to the regulations related to the phasing-out of single hull tankers and to prohibit the carriage of dirty oils by single hull tankers. It might be expected that both the Council and the European Parliament will succeed in finalizing their position by the end of March. Mr. O'Neil welcomed this statement and outlined an expeditious way to handle the EU proposals once submitted to IMO for consideration. The desirability of a global approach to the single hull tanker issue was recognized.

Both parties also agreed on the need for proactive action for the detection of structural weaknesses in ageing oil tankers, both single and double hulled.

In the meantime, the importance of designating new particularly sensitive sea areas and identifying places of refuge was stressed. The initiative taken by EU Member States to have additional PSSA measures considered at IMO's forthcoming MEPC session in July was welcomed and supported.

With regard to places of refuge, the European Commission welcomed the initiatives already taken by IMO towards adopting appropriate guidelines and underlined the importance of using these guidelines when implementing measures related to places of refuge throughout the EU.

Both sides emphasized the need to enhance flag State performance globally through IMO. Given the commitment of the EU Member States towards flag State auditing, the importance of achieving substantial progress on flag State performance at forthcoming IMO meetings (MSC, Council and Assembly) was recognized.

During the discussion, the European Commission stressed the added value the EU is bringing to IMO's work and how the relationship between IMO and the EU could be strengthened. The European Commission referred to its proposal for obtaining an early EU membership at IMO, which it considers will offer it the opportunity to play an even more constructive role within the Organization.

5 March 2003


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