ENDS Europe – Schlyter’s ship recycling fund defeated by MEPs

18 April 2013 - MEPs voting on the European Commission’s draft regulation on ship recycling have rejected a funding plan designed by MEP Carl Schlyter. But they agreed that some form of incentive should be put in place.

Mr Schlyter, who is the parliament’s rapporteur on the matter, wanted to overcome the problem of the most hazardous facilities in developing countries offering the most money for scrap ships, as their operating costs are minimal.

International law prohibits ships from OECD countries from being scrapped at facilities outside this region, but the ban is easily circumvented.

The Swedish MEP’s scheme would have helped fund the recycling of end-of-life vessels at EU-approved, better-quality facilities. It would have been financed through charges on ships calling at European ports.

The amendment to the commission’s proposal was struck down by 299 votes to 292 on Thursday, despite backing from the parliament’s environment committee.

However, the parliament accepted the idea of an incentive scheme. It endorsed a call from the centre-right EPP group for the commission to propose one by 2015.

The shipping industry and EU port operators had strongly criticised Mr Schlyter’s recycling fund, describing it as unworkable and costly. But the MEP told ENDS that claims about its impact were “grossly exaggerated”.

The parliament made a number of other important changes to the commission’s proposal. For example, the MEPs said all authorised facilities in and out of Europe should be signed off by the EU executive. In its draft regulation, the commission said member states would approve their own facilities.

To clarify the text, the MEPs also stressed that beach-based facilities, which are notoriously unsafe, could not receive EU approval.

EU-registered ships would also have to carry an inventory of hazardous materials while they are in use, rather than before they are sent for scrapping.

But without access to funding, there is little reason for owners of EU-flagged ships not to get round the rules by switching flag, Mr Schylter said.

The parliament has asked him to begin negotiations with the Council of Ministers