Europe must tackle growing pollution of North Sea

1 May 2006

Europe must tackle growing pollution of North Sea

An ever-decreasing proportion of waste from sea-going vessels is properly processed, which means that an ever-growing quantity is dumped into the North Sea. SP Euro-MP Erik Meijer today put a written parliamentary question on the scandal to the European Commission with the intention of bringing pressure to bear for improvements in the rules contained in the EU Directive on port reception facilities for ship-generated waste and cargo residues.

Erik MeijerSince October 2004, this Directive has obliged ships to discharge their waste in these “port reception facilities”. In reality, although it more and more ships are complying with the letter of this requirement, the total quantity of waste brought to ports is declining. “Evidently the improvements that the Directive was designed to bring about have not materialised,” said Erik Meijer. “The procedures involved are too complicated and there remain major differences in systems from one country to another. I am asking the Commission to take a serious look at this, find out where the system is working and where it isn't, and take clear measures to address the problems which are preventing the Directive from achieving its goal.”

The Dutch national parliament is aware of these problems and has already discussed possible improvements to the system. “Quite rightly,” Meijer observed, “because the Dutch authorities should be applying the Directive in such a way that it will eventually have a beneficial impact on the North Sea, which was the intention, after all. But it's clearly the case that the European rules themselves are not well thought-out. Pollution of the North Sea is a transfrontier problem that must be solved at European leve, otherwise any measures a country takes can be undermined by its neighbours.”

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