Strasbourg/Brussels -- The European Parliament has voted against the creation of the first-ever ship recycling fund, a market-based incentive aimed at financing cleaner and safer ship recycling worldwide. Members of the European Parliament by a clear majority agreed to demand that such a financial mechanism be created by the European Commission by 2015. NGO Shipbreaking Platform has condemned the result of the voting and deems the decision responsible as it only delays the unavoidable: Both the Commission and the Parliament having declared in the past that a fund is urgently needed to solve the global shipbreaking crisis, without ever delivering their promise.
“The idea of a fund has been discussed for 15 years at the European level. Let’s face it: the Parliament failed to uphold its own principles and to deliver as promised”, said Patrizia Heidegger, Executive Director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform. “Last year, one European ship was sent to a substandard beaching yard in South Asia every day. The EU needs to move now if it really wants to hold European shipowners accountable.”
299 against 292
The fund (voted against by a slight majority: 299 MEPs against; 292 for the fund) was envisioned to require all shipowners calling at EU ports, regardless of their flag, to pay a fee into a fund. The fund would finance proper ship recycling and hazardous waste management in EU-vetted facilities only. It aimed at preventing ships from reflagging outside of the EU, a common practice when ships are sold for beaching. Whereas 40 percent of the world’s fleet is European-owned, only 17 percent fly an EU flag.
Too weak without prevention of reflagging
Nevertheless, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform can celebrate that the MEPs have voted in favour of more stringent rules that will effectively ban beaching of EU-flagged ships. The Platform has been campaigning for years so that the unsustainable practice of beaching which is at the source of extreme pollution and human rights and labour rights violations in developing countries, is a thing of the past. However, a European ban on beaching without a funding mechanism to prevent reflagging of ships out of the EU at end-of-life, remains far too weak. It is expected that few ships will fall under the direct scope of the proposed regulation at end-of-life.
Amendment for green ship design
The Platform applauded Vittorio Prodi for having introduced an amendment for green ship design, which surprisingly was voted against by the Parliament, that would have minimised the use of hazardous materials during shipbuilding, so as to remove hazardous materials from modern fleets and to facilitate the best recycling practices at end-of-life. This amendment, which had also been advocated by Sabine Wils would have been widely welcomed as it envisaged a holistic solution for ships from cradle to cradle.
Source: recycling portal.