EU Shipping Law

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Maritime safety: the European Maritime Safety Agency

A. Introduction

27.001 The European Maritime Safety Agency (“EMSA”) now plays a central role in the European Union’s (“EU”) maritime safety agenda. As a specialised and dedicated agency, it can take the EU’s work in regard to maritime safety to a new higher level than the Commission which is more concerned with policy issues and has a wider agenda.1 This chapter focuses on the EMSA while subsequent chapters consider particular aspects of EU maritime safety law and particular aspects of the work of EMSA. 27.002 Article 1(1) of Regulation 1406/2002 established EMSA “for the purpose of ensuring a high, uniform and effective level of maritime safety, maritime security, prevention of, and response to, pollution caused by ships as well as response to marine pollution caused by oil and gas installations”.2

B. Background to the establishment of EMSA

27.003 The stimuli for the establishment of EMSA included two incidents, namely, the Erika in 1999 and the Prestige in 2002 which resulted in serious oil spills in EU waters. These two incidents followed many others over time. 27.004 The first recital to the regulation3 which established the EMSA recalled that a large number of legislative measures have been adopted in the EU in order to enhance safety and prevent pollution in maritime transport but in order to be effective such legislation must be applied in a proper and uniform manner throughout the EU. The recital also stated that such a move “will ensure a level playing field, reduce the distortion of competition resulting from the economic advantages enjoyed by non-complying ships and will reward the serious maritime players”. 27.005 The establishment of EMSA was the creation of a “specialised expert body”4 to execute certain tasks which had previously been executed at EU or Member State level. EMSA was needed because

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“there is a need for technical and scientific support and a high level of stable expertise to properly apply the [EU] legislation in the fields of maritime safety and ship pollution prevention, to monitor its implementation and to evaluate the effectiveness of the measures in place.”5

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