The European Parliament's transport committee will vote on a measure that could impose criminal sanctions in cases of maritime pollution.
Bid to toughen sanctions on ship-owners expected to "sail through" Parliamentary committee. The European Parliament's transport committee will vote this morning on a measure that could impose criminal sanctions in cases of maritime pollution. The main issue at stake is how to draw the line between what constitutes a "serious' case of pollution and what is only a "minor' case of pollution.
In serious cases, those responsible for the pollution could receive criminal penalties, but it would be up to the member state concerned to decide on the severity of the sentence. In more minor cases, the perpetrator would be penalised but not criminalised.
MEPs will vote on a text at the Parliament's March plenary session and more detailed negotiations will then begin with member states.
The legislation before the MEPs was drawn up in response to a ruling handed down by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in 2007 that supported a Commission proposal to impose criminal sanctions for pollution at sea but stated that the Commission could not determine the amount of the fine or the type of criminal penalty.
The transport committee is also to vote on the final details of the so-called "Erika III' package, containing measures whose ultimate aim is to avoid shipping disasters such as the 1999 sinking of the oil tanker Erika.
No amendments to the package have been proposed, so it is expected to ?sail through? today's vote, in preparation for the plenary vote in March, a Parliament spokesperson said.
Under the proposals, member states would be forced to ensure that ships flying their flags meet international safety standards, the liability of ship-owners would be clarified and enforced more stringently, and some key insurance obligations ? to cover accidents and pollution ? would be the same across the EU.
The Parliament's agriculture committee is scheduled to vote today on changes to a voluntary scheme that distributes food to poorer people in EU member states. Some MEPs have put down amendments proposing to change the legal basis of the scheme away from the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) to social policy, which would shift the voting basis from a qualified majority to unanimity.
In November 2008, a group of seven member states called for the same legal change, saying that the scheme was more of a social measure since it is no longer based on distributing surplus food produced as a result of the CAP.