The EU Council and Parliament reached political agreement late Thursday to amend Directive 2005/35/EC on ship-source pollution and on the introduction of penalties for pollution offences. The co-legislators agreed to align the Directive with the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (Marpol) and to extend the scope of the directive to cover more types of polluting substances discharged into the sea, such as sewage and garbage.

The new rules will improve transparency by making information available online regarding the pollution offences in European seas and the penalties imposed. Additionally, information on how coastal authorities verified a potential spill after an alert by satellite surveillance will be available online. The amendment clarifies the application of administrative penalties to make them more effective: for example, the size of the illegal discharge, its impact on the environment or the financial strength of the responsible entity will be considered when the Member States impose penalties.

There will be stronger tools and platforms for the exchange of information and experience for Member State authorities. For example, satellite surveillance for ship-source pollution (CleanSeaNet – EMSA’s surveillance and information sharing database) will be improved and will have better resolution. All the new measures make the deterrent effect stronger and contribute to pollution prevention in European seas.

The political agreement reached last night must now be adopted formally. Once this process is completed by the European Parliament and the Council, the new rules will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and enter into force 20 days later. Member States will have 30 months to transpose the Directive into national law.

Source: EUbusiness

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