ENDS Europe – EP’s environment committee backs ship recycling fund

26 March 2013 - The EU should financially reward responsible and lawful ship scrapping, the European Parliament’s environment committee said in a vote on Tuesday.

This should deter companies from sending old ships to cheaper but unsafe facilities in the developing world. Doing so is illegal for vessels flying a rich country’s flag, but the ban is widely and easily circumvented.

In response, the 2009 Hong Kong convention to better regulate ship recycling was drawn up. Last year, the European Commission proposed implementing the convention in the EU early and extending certain provisions.

But parliament rapporteur Carl Schylter told his MEP colleagues the commission would not meet its aims unless compliance was financially beneficial.

The environment committee supported the creation of a recycling fund, to be financed through a levy on all large ships calling at EU ports and anchorages. Owners could pay an annual fee, a per-visit fee or make a single, upfront payment.

Only yards on a ‘European list’ approved by the commission could claim payments from the fund. These facilities could be within or outside Europe. Using them would be the only way to legally scrap an EU-flagged vessel.

The committee established financial safeguards that should ensure that a sufficient amount of money is paid into the fund before claims can be made.

Facilities would only be able to claim a payment for recycling ships that have paid the annual levy for at least twice, or the full upfront fee.

Payments will not be available for recycling ships that have only paid the per-visit levy, as they are unlikely to have paid a sufficient amount into the fund.

The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) has criticised the regime, stating that it would increase the cost of calling at EU ports and damage their competitiveness.

Other amendments adopted by the committee strengthen a requirement to have hazardous substance inventories onboard and sanctions for non-compliance.

Talks with the Irish or Lithuanian presidencies of the EU will begin after the full parliament in Strasbourg votes on the proposal in May.