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EU push to clean up the seas is good for business  

​Spyros Spyridon

Local and regional politicians back proposals to update and simplify efforts to increase amount of ship waste brought to ports.

The European Union's regions and cities have backed plans to reduce the amount of plastic and fuels dumped in the sea, stressing that clear rules, consistent enforcement and moderate fees would help ports and ships keep the sea clean. The European Committee of the Regions also supported the EU's plans on economic grounds, arguing that the changes would help tourism and the development of a circular economy.

The recommendations made by the EU's assembly of local and regional politicians are a contribution to debate on a significant update of EU rules, bringing them into line with changes in the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), improving enforcement, and treating rules for ships and sea ports together. The revision is part of the European Commission's broader push to make EU law simpler and less costly.

The CoR's rapporteur on " Clean Ports, Clean Seas – port reception facilities for the delivery of waste from ships ", Spyros Spyridon (EL/EPP), said: "Cleaner seas mean sustainable economic development, particularly in the tourism sector, which is a mainstay of the economy of Greece and very important to many other EU countries. Ships should be obliged to deliver waste at sea ports, and we need to all sea ports to be able to handle waste at a reasonable cost. The challenge is to create incentives to deliver waste to ports, without placing an excessive financial burden on ships or introducing additional procedures or other time-consuming provisions. Overall, the Commission's proposals achieve these objectives. The proposals also simplify and clarify the rules, and so they should remove many of the ambiguities for shippers, port authorities and waste handlers."

Mr Spyridon, who is a member of the CoR's Greek delegation representing the region of Attica, continued: "We believe that there is a particularly urgent need to deal with plastic waste and we want exhaust-gas cleaning systems to be in the directive, which was not the case before. Other challenges are flexibility, fees, and enforcement. There are many local and regional aspects to port management and fees for waste should not be dictated centrally. The Commission is clearly conscious of the need for flexibility, which is very positive. But we also need strong enforcement, to prevent unfair competition and 'port-shopping'. So there needs to be a single framework of penalties, and shippers and ports must be very clearly warned about penalties."

He added that, while the CoR has criticisms of the proposals' failure to address ways of reducing waste and some technical issues, the CoR would like to see the EU push to extend the influence of the legislation, so that ports in sea basins and regions neighbouring the EU have reasons to sign up voluntarily to the same obligations.

The report was adopted with some amendments .

Contact:

Andrew Gardner

Tel. +32 473 843 981

andrew.gardner@cor.europa.eu