(Written by Dave Keating)
26 March 2013 - MEPs have voted in favour of a Europe-wide ship recycling fund.
All ships calling at EU ports would have to pay a fee into the fund, which will disburse premiums for safe and sound ship recycling in facilities vetted by the EU.The goal is to eliminate the price gap to substandard facilities located on beaches in non-OECD countries, where ships are often recycled in a way that is dangerous to the environment and human health.The MEPs also voted to outlaw beaching, the practice of breaking up ships on tidal beaches. The vote is in response to a European Commission proposal that implements the internationally-agreed Hong Kong Convention on ship recycling. The committee’s position would go further than is required by the international convention.
Patrizia Heidegger, executive director of the environmental campaign group Shipbreaking Platform, said that if the MEP position were to be adopted into EU law it would be “the first supra-national legally-binding rule which prohibits beaching.”
But Heidegger expressed disappointment that the committee also voted to remove toxic ships from the EU Waste Shipment Regulation. That regulation implemented the separate Basel Convention, which forbids the export of hazardous waste from rich countries to poor ones. The MEPs said the new Hong Kong convention makes this redundant, but campaigners disagree.
“Such a proposal does not stand against any careful analysis of European and international law,” said Ludwig Krämer, an environmental lawyer and former head of the waste management unit at the European Commission’s environment department. In November 2012, Krämer argued in a legal analysis that removing end-of-life ships from the EU Waste Shipment Regulation was against international law.