Hudghton (Greens/EFA), on behalf of the Greens/EFA Group - Madam President, the Erika and Prestige disasters are quite rightly referred to as justification for having better and tighter safety regulation in maritime transport. Sadly, these are not the only examples. The Braer oil spill off the Shetland Islands of Scotland is another catastrophic disaster which had long-term devastating effects on that island's community. My group has generally supported the Committee on Transport and Tourism reports as they have gone through. In relation to monitoring and information, it is simply common sense to tighten the policy on the accommodation of ships in distress and for Member States to designate an independent competent authority in order to realise this. When speed of action is essential, it is vital that we have clear lines of responsibility in this matter. I think that Mr Sterckx's report from the Committee on Transport and Tourism has added constructively to the Commission's proposals. I welcome Mr Sterckx's recognition that there are practical and financial aspects in relation to the fishing industry that have to be borne in mind when considering an automatic identification system and the question of confidentiality of information relating thereto. I support the idea of a compensation fund for places of refuge and for ports.
This is particularly important if a ship, for example, was poorly insured. We supported the Sterckx report in committee but as a group we have tabled two amendments which I hope will be accepted in the vote. We believe these are based simply on common sense and relate to mapping of environmentally sensitive areas. Surely in assessing a potential place of refuge it is important to identify vulnerable coastal resources as well as the potential impact of oil spills on these resources. While that information can vary seasonally and in many cases is already held for many European waters, it simply has not been collected together centrally and made accessible to decision-makers in order to speed up reaction time in the event of emergencies. In port state control, while recasting the existing directive, we welcome the new inspection regime, the three types of inspection, and the new provisions on refusal of access to EU ports. However, we believe that the report from the Committee on Transport and
Tourism, again with common sense in mind, simplifies the structure of the proposal and makes it more coherent. It describes more precisely the future inspection database and strengthens and clarifies the link between Community inspection regimes and the Paris memorandum inspection regime, and for that reason we supported it in committee. In terms of ship inspection and survey organisations, as others have mentioned, the issue of transparency and independence of organisations is very important. In the monitoring of their activities, surely it is common sense to ensure that the control and monitoring of the activities of inspection organisations are absolutely transparent, fair and strict. We had tabled amendments in committee on the de Grandes Pascual report which called for greater input by the European Maritime Safety Agency. These were not accepted on the basis that the Commission intends, we are told, to propose new regulation on the remit of EMSA. I would welcome an assurance that the Commission does indeed intend to look constructively in that area.
The kinds of catastrophes that we have too often witnessed do not just cause short-term environmental damage. They can sometimes totally ruin local industries, from fisheries to aquaculture, as well as having other long-term effects. These need to be borne in mind. Significant progress has been made at EU level in terms of maritime transport safety and we should use the experiences that we have gained from previous maritime packages as a basis to achieve further improvement. I hope that the Council will accept that Parliament's reports from the Committee on Transport and Tourism constructively contribute to the process in what we believe is a common-sense way. I hope that our suggestions will be accepted and taken forward.