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EU adopts proposals to simplify and improve passenger ship safety rules

EU adopts proposals to simplify and improve passenger ship safety rules
The European Commission has adopted a number of legislative proposals to simplify and improve the common rules on safety of ships carrying passengers in EU waters.

Among the key changes is the amending of Directive 98/41/EC on registration of persons on board introducing the requirement to register passenger data in a digital manner, using harmonised administrative procedures (the so-called National Single Window established under Directive 2010/65/EU) to facilitate search and rescue operations in case of emergency.

Currently data concerning persons on board is kept by the companies' registrar. The proposal also introduces flexibility for operators on shorter voyages.

Cruise Lines International Association told Seatrade Cruise News it welcomes the recent EU legislative proposals on passenger ship safety rules, having engaged with the European Commission and other stakeholders throughout the process.

'CLIA is glad that the new proposals seek to simplify existing legislation. The cruise industry already applies on a voluntary basis some of the measures that the proposals seek to introduce, such as the requirement to collect and record the nationality of passengers,' said a CLIA Europe spokesman.

EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: 'Offering the highest safety standards to passengers across all transport modes is one of my top priorities. The update we are proposing aims to enhance safety by clarifying the rules and by making the best use of recent technological developments.'

The proposals deliver on the recommendations of the fitness check driven by the Commission's Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT) Programme which showed that applicable rules in this domain need to be simplified and updated. In consequence, the safety of some 400m passengers (cruise and ferry) travelling on average every year in EU waters can be ensured in a more effective and efficient manner.

In the coming months, while the EU co-legislators discuss these proposals, the Commission will follow up on the remaining recommendations of the fitness check including increasing the level of survivability of passenger ships in damaged condition at international level.

The overall safety record of cruise ships has continued to improve with each passing decade, according to a recent assessment of operational safety in the cruise industry by maritime research experts G. P. Wild. As cruise capacity has increased by 22.5% since 2009, the overall number of operational incidents has declined by 15% the findings revealed.