The European Council (EC) has adopted a new law to improve stability requirements for ropax ferries.
This new directive will play an important role in ensuring the safety of both vessels and their passengers in the European Union (EU), in accordance with the new international standards in this sector, the Council said.
Ropaxes provide numerous links within member states, between member states and with third countries. They are therefore of major importance to passenger and freight transport in Europe. The proposal to revise the existing directive originates from maritime accidents, such as the sinking of the ‘Estonia’ in 1994.
The EC said that the revised directive ensures, as far as possible, consistency with the applicable international standards for the stability of damaged passenger ships recently updated by the IMO under its 2020 International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS Convention).
The IMO has recently introduced a new model for assessing the survivability of damaged ropaxes, as well as new related requirements.
However, these new international standards are not completely in line with the requirements already in force in the EU for smaller new vessels. Therefore, the new law maintains a level of safety requirements equivalent to existing law for those ships, the EC explained
The revised directive also aims to strengthen fleet entry requirements within the EU for existing large vessels that have not yet been certified in the Union. The text of the new directive maintains the general purpose of the initial Commission proposal, except for the extension of the transposition deadline from 12 to 18 months.
This new directive will be published in the EU’s Official Journal shortly and will enter into force on the 20th day, following its publication. Member states will have 18 months to install the directive into their national legislation.
Explaining the background, the EC said that in the framework of its regulatory fitness and performance programme (REFIT) and better regulation agenda, and as announced in the 2011 white paper on transport, it presented a legislative proposal to amend Directive 2003/25/EC regarding the inclusion of improved stability requirements for ropaxes and its alignment with stability requirements defined by the IMO on 18th February, 2022.
Following inter-institutional negotiations, the two co-legislators reached a provisional political agreement on the file on 6th December, 2022.