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Implementation of the EU Sulphur Directive must be harmonised and realistic

Today is the deadline by which EU Member States have to transpose the European Sulphur Directive into national legislation. With the entry into force of the new European sulphur rules for ships in less than six months, on 1st of January 2015, European shipowners issue an open letter calling for fair, realistic and harmonised implementation of the Directive.

The new sulphur requirements impose that ships sailing in the SECAs (Sulphur Emission Control Areas-the Channel, the North Sea and the Baltic Sea) use bunker fuels with a sulphur content of maximum 0.1% or that the same level of emissions is reached by the use of alternative fuels or compliant abatement technologies. However, the shipping industry is faced with a number of legal and technical uncertainties, which the Commission and Member States urgently need to address if they hope to lend shipowners a helping hand in preparing for the 1st of January 2015 deadline. 

In general, shipowners that have made irrevocable investments in good faith to be compliant in time, but are facing some of the uncertainties and problems, should be able to rely on well-defined and strictly limited transitory exemptions, such as extended compliance paths.

“Member States and the Commission need to clarify without delay how they intend to apply and harmonise enforcement policies” remarked Patrick Verhoeven, ECSA Secretary General. “This however cannot be to the detriment of competitiveness. Establishing legal certainty about proper compliance and enforcement together with a fair level playing field between shipping operators and between transport modes are therefore a must.”

“European shipowners are committed to fully comply with the requirements of the Sulphur Directive and with the corresponding requirements of MARPOL Annex VI. During this demanding period of change for shipowners, we ask that the rules to ensure enforcement of the EU Sulphur Directive are put in place in a pragmatic way” said Mr Verhoeven, before concluding: “The Commission and the Member States need to be strict but they also need to remain realistic”.

For more information please contact:

Benoît LOICQ
Director – Maritime Safety and Environment
Phone + 32 2 510 61 25
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Dimitrios BANAS

Manager – Communication and Information, Social Affairs
Phone +32 2 510 61 22
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