European Parliament backs new ship recycling regulation

23 October 2013 (Last Updated October 23rd, 2013 18:30)

European Parliament has given the green light to the new EU ship recycling regulation proposed by NGO Shipbreaking Platform, under which ships will not be dismantled on the country’s beaches.

European Parliament has given the green light to the new EU ship recycling regulation called for by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, under which ships will not be dismantled on the country’s beaches.

The initiative by the NGO coalition is aimed to improve shipbreaking practices globally.

The new regulation, however, is applicable only for those ships that are registered under the flag of an EU member state.

The registered ships will be broken in facilities that meet the regulatory requirements and that are listed by the European Commission.

The new regulation also demands all the ships visiting European ports to provide inventories of hazardous materials.

According to the NGO coalition, the regulation will fail to create an impact if financial incentive is not introduced to ensure compliance with the new rules.

The regulation also asks the European Commission to amend the Environmental Crimes Directive act to include breaches of the new regulation, to develop adequate technical guidance notes on the requirements for ship recycling facilities, and to certify and audit ship recycling facilities outside the EU.

NGO Shipbreaking Platform executive director Patrizia Heidegger said without a financial incentive, circumvention of European law covering end-of-life vessels will persist and European ship owners will be allowed to continue to seek significant financial profits by externalising environmental and human health costs to the shipbreaking beaches of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, and to the exploited workforce there.

"To ensure that the regulation has a positive impact on improving ship recycling practices globally the European Commission needs to make sure that the listed facilities are properly audited and certified to guarantee Environmentally Sound Management (ESM) of hazardous waste; that breaches of the law are sanctioned in line with internationally accepted penalty schemes; and that ship owners do not simply flag out to a non-EU flag prior to selling the vessel for dismantling in an attempt to circumvent EU law," Heidegger added.

The new regulation also has some drawbacks; it can’t prevent ship owners from changing their ship’s registration to a non-EU flag, which could result in reduction of the number of EU registered ships.

Before adopting the new ship recycling regulation, the EU will be forced to reconcile the illegality of unilaterally acting in non-compliance with international law.