European Parliament Rejects Proposal for Ship Recycling Fund

Shipbreaking at Alang.
Shipbreaking at Alang. Photo: IMO

The European Parliament on Thursday backed plans that would help make the scrapping of old ships safer, but voted against an Environment Committee proposal for a recycling fund financed by a levy.

The draft regulation aims to reduce the adverse effects of careless scrapping, such as accidents, injury and damage to the environment, by steering EU-ships towards EU-approved scrapping facilities around the world where the ships will be recycled responsibly.

The Environment Committee report, drafted by Carl Schlyter (Greens/EFA, SE), proposed that the scheme be funded by a recycling levy to be imposed on any ship using an EU port, in line with the “polluter pays” principle, which would encourage the recycling of old ships at the proper facilities.

The MEPs opposed the recycling fund levy proposal by a narrow 299 votes to 292, with 21 abstentions. Instead, members adopted an amendment calling on the European Commission to table a legislative proposal before the end of 2015 “for an incentive-based system that would facilitate safe and sound ship recycling.”

“While the EP has voted to put an end to European ships being recklessly scrapped in developing countries in hazardous conditions, this is jeopardized by the failure to adopt a financial mechanism to support it,” Schlyter said after the vote. “It is very frustrating that a narrow majority succumbed to highly misleading lobbying by the maritime sector, seeking to shirk its responsibilities, and voted down the proposed financial mechanism that would have made safe ship recycling competitive.”

NGO Shipbreaking Platform, an environmental watchdog group which focuses on shipbreaking practices, condemned today’s vote by the European Parliament against the proposed recycling fund but welcomed the more stringent rules that will effectively ban beaching of EU-flagged ships.

Under the proposed new rules, member states would be required to establish an inventory of all hazardous materials on board each EU ship.

Non-EU ships entering a port or an anchorage of a member state would also have to have a hazardous materials inventory on board, and would face a fine if the condition of ship does not comply with the inventory.

Penalties would also be imposed on owners of EU ships that are sold and sent, within twelve months of the sale, for recycling on a beach or in a facility not on the EU list.