European Commission - Press release

Transport: Commission sends reasoned opinion on investigation of accidents at sea to three Member States

Brussels, 22 March 2012 – The European Commission today sent reasoned opinions to Belgium, Cyprus and Portugal for their failure to communicate what measures they were taking to transpose Directive 2009/18/EC which concerns the investigation of accidents at sea. This is the normal procedure in the event of a persistent failure to communicate such measures despite having received formal notice. Sending a reasoned opinion is the last step in the procedure before possibly taking a matter to the Court of Justice.

The EU rules

Directive 2009/18/EC lays down the basic principles governing investigations into accidents in the maritime transport sector. It requires Member States to bring into force the necessary legislative, regulatory and administrative implementing provisions before 17 June 2011. This Directive is part of the third maritime safety package, adopted by the European Parliament and the Council in 2009.

The practical consequences of non-transposition

Directive 2009/18/EC aims to improve maritime safety and better prevent pollution from ships by requiring Member States to organise safety investigations after serious accidents at sea. The purpose of these investigations, which are separate from any criminal investigations and are carried out by independent bodies, is to establish what has caused the accidents and draw lessons to improve maritime safety in the future. The results of the investigations must be published. If they fail to take the necessary measures, Member States prevent such arrangements from being set up.

Next steps

The Commission's request takes the form of a reasoned opinion under EU infringement procedures. If Belgium, Cyprus or Portugal fails to inform the Commission within two months of the measures taken to ensure full compliance with EU law, the Commission could refer the case to the EU Court of Justice.

For more information on infringement procedures, see: MEMO/12/200

Contacts :

Helen Kearns (+32 2 298 76 38)

Dale Kidd (+32 2 295 74 61)

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