An international set of rules, preventing pollution from tankers, prescribes that tankers carrying oil must be constructed with double-hull or a similar solution to minimise the risk of oil pollution. As a result of the rules single-hull oil tankers have been phased out. With the regulation from 2002 the Member States in the EU committed to further acceleration of the phase-out scheme for single-hull tankers than previously agreed upon. At the same time a new set of rules to limit the transport of oil in single-hull tankers to and from ports in the Member States was introduced.
The new regulation, which is the first result in the maritime area for the Danish Presidency, ensures that all changes to the original regulation from 2002 are gathered. This creates transparency in the community laws and increases the ease at which the rules can be understood.
During 2011 the Council and the European Parliament has negotiated the proposal under the leadership of changing presidencies. From the start of the six-month presidency the Danish Presidency has worked hard to finish the negotiations, which has now paid off.
The political agreement must be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council.
Tankers with a single-hull design are characterized by that in such vessels oil in the cargo tanks is separated from the seawater only by a bottom and a side plate. Should this plate be damaged as a result of collision or stranding, the contents of the cargo tanks risk spilling into the sea and causing serious pollution. An effective way of avoiding this risk is to surround the cargo tanks with a second internal plate at a sufficient distance from the external plate. This design, known as a double-hull, protects cargo tanks against damage and thus reduces the risk of pollution.
The EU regulation from 2002, which has ensured an accelerated phase-out of single-hull tankers, stems from a set of rules adopted by UN’s mar-itime organisation, IMO. In 2005 a stricter set of global rules for single-hull tankers and transportation of oil came into force. The regulation in the EU has covered only vessels calling into port in the EU, while the international rules apply to all vessels in transit along the coasts as well. Agreement between the regulation in the EU and the international set of rules in the area ensures competition on equal terms.
The Commission put forward the newest proposal on accelerated phase-in of double-hull tankers or equivalent design in 2011. The proposal empowers the Commission to adopt delegated acts. In other words this means that the Commission has the authority to adopt decisions of technical matters outside the ordinary legislative procedure between the Council and the European Parliament. The decisions will be of editorial character alone and with the purpose of ensuring that there is no mismatch between the EU law and the international set of rules in the area.