The NGO Shipbreaking Platform secretariat and the Platform’s 17 member organisations are currently working together with other NGOs to strengthen the European Commission’s proposal for a ship recycling regulation, published on 23 March 2012.
Read our Position Paper on the EC Proposal – Find out why the EC Proposal is illegal - Understand why the EU needs a financial mechanism for ship recycling
18.04.2013 – NGOs welcome European Parliament decision to ban beaching but criticize it for killing the fund
On 18 April 2013, the European Parliament in a first reading of the European Commission proposal for a ship recycling regulation, voted 292 in favour and 299 against the creation of a Europe-wide ship recycling fund. Whereas the ENVI Committee (see below) of the European Parliament had enthusiastically supported the fund three weeks earlier, the Parliament as a whole unfortunately rejected it, replacing the fund with a much weaker call on the European Commission to come up with a “financial incentive” by 2015. Therefore, instead of creating a sound fund that would include all shipowners calling at European ports in the solution, the Parliament preferred passing the ball back to the Commission.
On the other hand, the decision to ban beaching by introducing more stringent measures to comply with for ship recycling facilities, was voted for by the Parliament. If accepted by the European Council, the EU institution that is now also discussing the Commission Proposal, this would be the first regional ban on the beaching method – a step urgently needed if any change is to be brought to the global shipbreaking crisis.
>> See the vote amendment by amendment (amendment n°31 corresponds to the fund)
>> See the detail of the vote against the fund, political party by political party:
EPP (European People’s Party): 19 MEPs voted in favour of the fund, the rest of the EPP voted against
S&D (Socialists & Democrats): all in favour, except 4 against and 11 abstentions
ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe): 42 in favour, 22 against, 3 abstentions
Greens/EFA (Greens/European Free Alliance): 47 in favour, 1 against
ECR (European Conservatives and Reformists): 1 in favour, 38 against
GUE/NGL (European United Left – Nordic Green Left): 25 in favour, 4 against, 3 abstentions
EFD (Europe of Freedom and Democracy): 11 in favour, 13 against
26.03.2013 – NGO Shipbreaking Platform welcomes EU Parliament ENVI Committee vote for ship recycling fund and off-the-beach stance, but warns that Basel regime for ships must be kept in place
On Tuesday 26 March 2013, the European Parliament’s Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) voted in a large majority in support of the ship recycling fund, an economic incentive to finance environmentally sound ship recycling and internalise the costs of proper hazardous waste management. The idea is to have all ships calling at EU ports pay a fee into the fund, which will disburse premiums for safe and sound ship recycling in carefully vetted EU-listed facilities. The fund should eliminate the price gap to substandard facilities located on beaches in non-OECD countries where shipowners currently obtain the highest prices for their end-of-life ships, even when shipbreaking workers are killed and suffer from occupational diseases caused by the toxic materials present in these ships. The fund is supported by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.
Moreover, the NGOs welcome the groundbreaking decision to outlaw beaching, the polluting and dangerous practice of breaking ships on tidal beaches.
However, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform and several legal experts also decry the Parliament’s Environment Committee for voting to remove toxic ships from the EU Waste Shipment Regulation, a proposal that would suddenly legalise the export of end-of-life ships built with asbestos, heavy metals or PCBs to non-OECD countries. The Platform warns that this unilateral step violates the EU’s and Member States’ obligations under the Basel Convention and the Basel Ban Amendment. Under the international Basel Convention to which all Member States and the EU itself are parties, and under current European law (Waste Shipment Regulation) ships sold for recycling are considered hazardous waste, the export of which from the EU to non-OECD countries like India is currently illegal. There can be no unilateral decision that ships are not hazardous waste: only the Basel Convention itself can decide on this matter, which they have not.
>> Read our press release
22.02.2013 – Danish ship recycler Fornaes Aps adds 10th signature to Common Statement of Concern
The Danish-based ship recycling company Fornaes Aps (Fornaes Ship recycling) today added its signature to the Common Statement of Concern published last November by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, which calls on European institutions to consider the European-based ship recycling capacity in the debate on the future European ship recycling regulation. Fornaes Aps is the second ship recycling yard in Denmark to sign the statement after the company Smedegaarden added its signature in November.
Click here to download the updated version of the Statement of Concern
22.01.2013 – Study shows a financial mechanism for ship recycling is legal, enforceable and effective
In its study published on 22 January 2013, the Dutch economic consultancy Profundo argues that a financial mechanism ensuring that green ship recycling takes place globally and in particular with ships controlled by the European Union is not only legally defensible but is necessary to ensure the success of any green ship recycling legislation.
The report provides three different alternative models: a fund financed by shipowners through taxes levied at EU ports, a ship life insurance scheme, and a savings account coupled to a transitional fund specifically aimed at financing the recycling of older ships.
The NGO Shipbreaking Platform welcomed this report, arguing that any such mechanism must be based on individual producer responsibility and be a strong economic incentive for shipowners to dismantle their end-of-life vessels properly. The financial incentive must meet the following three objectives:
- internalize the costs for proper ship recycling and the management of hazardous wastes;
- discourage the reflagging of end-of-life vessels to avoid European regulations;
- implement an individual shipowner responsibility scheme to encourage the shipping industry to procure green ship design and pre-clean ships during operational use.
Updated version of Policy Paper
On 22 January 2013, the Platform also published an updated, more detailed version of its joint Policy Paper published in November 2012 with Greenpeace. The updated Policy Paper contains a detailed argumentation about the objectives and elements that should be included in the financial mechanism.
17.12.2012 – Legal Opinions criticize legality of EC Proposal
On 17 December, following the publication of legal analyses of the European Commission Proposal for a ship recycling regulation by two independent lawyers, the Platform wrote to the European Council’s legal service, asking for the public release of their own analysis of the Proposal. Both the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and Dr. Ludwig Krämer, the former chief counsel to the European Commission, conclude that the European Commission has greatly overstepped its authority by attempting to unilaterally depart from its international legal obligations under the Basel Convention.
The legal experts find that the European Commission’s proposal not only undermined the Basel Ban, which Europe has implemented and championed, but that it is also illegal under the Basel Convention. Dr. Krämer’s legal analysis concludes that “any proposal to remove ships from the Waste Shipment Regulation is in breach of EU and EU Member States’ legal obligations under the Basel Convention.” CIEL’s legal analysis, authored by David Azoulay, was also in agreement, concluding that “the EU’s Proposed Legislation attempting to unilaterally exempt a certain category of hazardous waste covered by the Basel Convention, namely end-of-life ships, from the control mechanisms of the Convention is illegal under international law and EU law.”
27.11.2012 – Common statement with European ship recyclers
We published an updated version of the statement on 22.02.2013.
Click here or on the picture on the left to download the statement.
On 27 November, several European ship recyclers and the Platform signed a common Statement of Concern about the Commission proposal. Seeing that the proposal in its current form does not take into account the current ship recycling capacity offered in the European Union, the ship recyclers are calling on the EU institutions to grasp this opportunity to create green jobs and keep a valuable stream of resources within the EU.
“Green ship recycling facilities within the OECD could currently recycle all EU-flagged end-of-life vessels containing hazardous wastes“, the statement reads. “By using these facilities, the EU can both comply with its international obligations under the Basel Convention by stopping the export of hazardous wastes to developing countries, and promote urgently needed jobs in the green ship recycling industry in Europe.”
So far, ship recyclers in the UK, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Spain, Belgium and Denmark have signed the statement. More signatures by ship recyclers may be added in the future. The statement can be downloaded here or by clicking on the image to the left.
The statement was published one day before the first discussion on the Commission proposal takes place in the European Parliament. On 28 November, the Parliament’s Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) debated the draft report on the Commission proposal prepared by Carl Schlyter MEP.
13.11. 2012 – Joint Position Paper
On 13 November, the Platform and Greenpeace EU, both based in Brussels, published a joint position paper on ship recycling called “A principled and practical solution for ship recycling: NGO Shipbreaking Platform and Greenpeace Position on the European Commission Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on Ship Recycling (COM 2012/118)”.
“The Commission Proposal on ship recycling includes gaps and loopholes which, if not rectified by the Council and the European parliament, will result in a legislative text unable to respond to the legal and political concerns related to the export of hazardous waste ships to developing countries”, the position paper reads.
A revised, stronger version of the proposal should :
- keep end-of-life vessels under the competency of the Waste Shipment Regulation, the EU legislation that implements both the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, and the Ban Amendment;
- create two European Lists of ship recycling facilities, one listing all facilities in the OECD countries (including the EU) where end-of-life ships containing hazardous materials would be sent, and the other listing all facilities outside the OECD countries where non-hazardous ships would be recycled;
- make the shipping industry internalize costs by setting up a funding mechanism that would work as a disincentive to re-flag, thus avoid applicable European legislation. This funding mechanism could be a ship life insurance or an environmental port fee;
- include a ban on the beaching of end-of-life ships;
- include the Substitution Principle so that hazardous wastes can be replaced by safer, healthier alternatives as early as in the design phase of the ship, and throughout its operational life.
The position paper can be downloaded by clicking on the picture above and here.
06.11.2012 – Event at the EU Parliament
On 6 November the Platform co-organised an event at the European Parliament: “Shipbreaking: taking responsibility for hidden costs”. The event was hosted by Carl Schlyter MEP, the rapporteur on the Commission proposal to the European Parliament’s Environment Committee.
The event featured a panel discussion chaired by Mr Schlyter. Amongst the panelists was Karl Falkenberg, director general of the DG Environment of the European Commission, who declared that EU-flagged ships (which are the only ships concerned by the Commission proposal in its current form) would not be allowed to be sold to ship recycling facilities using the beaching method. It was the first time that a representative from the Commission made a public statement against beaching as a possible method for recycling EU ships.
EU Commission proposal deemed illegal
Other panelists included Ludwig Krämer, environmental lawyer at ClientEarth, who explained that the Commission proposal in its current form is illegal. Mr Krämer said the proposal if adopted would effectively withdraw end-of-life ships from the EU Waste Shipment Regulation, whereas this is forbidden by law as the EU is bound by an international treaty known as the Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, which defines end-of-life ships as hazardous wastes. The EU has also made the export of these ships from the EU to developing countries illegal by transposing what is known as the Ban Amendment into EU law through the same Waste Shipment Regulation.
Jim Puckett, executive director of Basel Action Network (BAN), explained that the EU had always been a champion of the Ban Amendment and said that this Commission proposal was worrying as it represents a big step backwards if indeed the EU intends to continue protecting developing countries from becoming the dumping sites for richer countries’ hazardous waste.
Finally, Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) and advocate at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh said that the EU Commission should make sure the waste present within EU-flagged ships is properly treated in the EU instead of being sent to developing countries like Bangladesh, who lack the proper facilities to effectively manage hazardous waste. She called on the European Commission to ban beaching for EU ships so that they would have to choose alternatives to developing countries using this method.
Her presentation can be downloaded here.
Harrowing documentary highlights fatal flaws of beaching
The event was also the occasion for Ralph Vituccio, an award-winning documentary film maker and Director of Media Development in Communications Design at Carnegie Mellon (USA), and his colleague Tom Clancey, a Los-Angeles-based cinematographer, to present the trailer of their upcoming documentary “The Shipbreakers”, filmed in the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India. The film makers shared with the audience their experience while filming in the yards, describing in detail the pollution they witnessed and the lack of proper equipment and infrastructure the shipbreaking workers have to deal with every day.
A small exhibition featuring pictures taken in Bangladesh by Pierre Torset, a French photographer, was featured at the entrance of the event.