Strategic Priorities

Legal Affairs

Support the EU’s engagements with international maritime bodies to maintain a common global shipping regulatory environment that safeguards a level playing field for EU shipowners.

A fragmented global regulatory environment with conflicting national or regional rules would not only compromise the efficiency of world trade, create market distortions and administrative confusion, but also endanger the EU’s position as a global trading power.

The global and EU shipping industries are proponents of the implementation of the comprehensive regulatory framework provided by the United Nations’ International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and International Labour Organization (ILO).

ECSA promotes the joint industry ratification of maritime conventions campaign by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the Comité Maritime International (CMI). The current campaign focuses on the IMO Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (Hong Kong Convention), IMO 2010 Protocol to the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea (HNS), IMO 2003 Supplementary Fund Protocol to 1992 Fund Convention.

The EU Environmental Liability Directive (ELD) provides for maritime ‘exceptions’ in Article 4 paragraphs (2) and (3) which were expressly created in recognition that the international regime for liability and compensation for environmental damage from a shipping incident has benefits over the EU’s ELD. The shipping industry strongly supports the continued retention of these exceptions so as to maintain the primacy of the international conventions and the application of the international regime laid down in the IMO conventions without conflict with the ELD.

There has been and will continue to be increasing attention on the future of international ocean governance. ECSA engages with EU regulators to ensure the European shipping industry’s views and specific contexts are taken into account in the discussions, both at the EU level and when taking up common EU positions in the negotiations on a United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of Biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdictions (BBNJ). While the industry supports the objectives of the negotiations, it is important that the new instrument recognises the central role the IMO plays in regulating the shipping industry and avoid inadvertent or adverse effects by any measures agreed under the new instrument.

Also important is the EU legislation related to Passenger Rights and Passenger Liability for waterborne transport. ECSA has been following the complementary EU Accessibility Act and will be eager to engage on any review of the sectoral passenger rights regulation expected over the next legislature. ECSA supports initiatives that help improve the implementation of existing sectoral regulations and the provision of more information on available services (like journey planners), through guidance and information that is consistent with national law and practices. ECSA sees no compelling need for any new initiative on passenger rights in a multimodal context. The contractual, legal, insurance, practical, operational and economic implications for different transporters will far outweigh the possible gains for the passenger and cannot be justified.


ECSA would like to encourage regulators to:

  • ratify the international maritime conventions of the IMO, the ILO and other UN bodies that impact on shipping, in particular the Hong Kong Convention, HNS Convention and Supplementary Funds Convention
  • maintain the specific considerations made for the liability framework of the shipping industry in the EU’s Environmental Liability Directive
  • ensure that shipping interests are taken into account in the discussions within both EU and international contexts on the future of international ocean governance
  • consider the negative implications of any EU legislative initiative on passenger rights in the multimodal context on the industry
  • support the work in the IMO’s Legal Committee on developing a unified interpretation of the text for breaking shipowners’ right to limit liability under the IMO conventions