Transport of passengers: the Commission proposes new, simpler and more efficient rules to guarantee safety

On 6 June 2016, the European Commission adopted a number of legislative proposals for the simplification and improvement of the common rules on safety of ships carrying passengers in EU waters. The aim is to improve safety and ensure that competition takes place on an equal footing, making those rules clearer, simpler and updated with legal and technological developments. It will also allow immediate access of competent authorities to relevant data in case of emergency, ensuring that search and rescue operations are treated more effectively.

The proposals follow the recommendations of the fitness check driven by the Commission’s Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT) Programme. These recommendations have shown that the applicable rules in this area need to be simplified and updated to better guarantee the safety of some 400 million passengers travelling on average every year in EU waters.

The key changes to the safety standards and requirements for passenger ships sailing in EU waters are:

  1. the proposal amending Directive 98/41/EC on registration of persons on board , introducing the requirement to register passenger data in a digital manner, using harmonized administrative procedures (the so-called National Single Window established under Directive 2010/65/EU);
  2. the proposal amending Directive 2009/45/EC on technical requirements for passenger ships on domestic voyages , clarifying that ships built in aluminum have to be certified according to this Directive, and meet its fire safety requirements. It is also proposed to exclude ships below 24 meters from the scope of the Directive, for which its prescriptive standards proved to be difficult to adapt in practice. National rules for such ships can generally take better account of local circumstances;
  3. the proposal replacing and repealing Directive 1999/35/EC on surveys for ships in regular service, aiming at eliminating overlaps between various inspection regimes. This will preserve the safety level while reducing the administrative burden on ship-owners and rationalize the inspection efforts of Member States’ authorities.