On 1 June 2023, the European Commission presented five legislative proposals to modernise EU rules on maritime safety and prevent water pollution from ships. With 75% of the EU’s external trade being seaborne, maritime transport is not only the artery of a globalised economy, but also a lifeline for the EU’s islands, peripheral and remote maritime regions. Although maritime safety in EU waters is currently very high, with few fatalities and no recent major oil spills, more than 2,000 marine accidents and incidents are still reported every year.
The proposals will equip the EU with new tools to support clean and modern shipping. They will align EU rules with international regulations, securing a level-playing field for the sector while improving implementation and enforcement through digitalisation and more EU cooperation. The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) will play a prominent role in the implementation of the new requirements through the support it will offer Member States administration to enforce the new rules. A separate proposal puts forward changes to EMSA’s mandate and incorporates these new tasks.