SP: EU rules for dismantling ships must be stricter

1 April 2008

SP: EU rules for dismantling ships must be stricter

The European Parliament will tomorrow discuss the regulations governing the breaking up of ships at the end of their useful lives. Many of these end up on the foreshore of countries such as India where, under appalling conditions, they are broken up by hand, often by child workers. “I intend to present tomorrow a number of proposals which would tighten up the rules,” says SP Euro-MP Kartika Liotard, “because the inhuman conditions which surround the dismantling of ships are as things stand completely unacceptable.”

Kartika LiotardThe Environment Committee of the European Parliament will on Wednesday debate the report from Dutch Christian Union MEP Hans Blokland on the European Commission's Green Paper on improvements to the system for breaking up ships. “Mr Blokland is himself proposing a number of improvements to the regulation where this falls short,” says Liotard. “But in my view these do not in all cases go far enough. Words on their own change nothing. We have already got a fine treaty, the Basle Treaty, with rules on the responsible breaking up of ships, but what is completely lacking is the enforcement of these rules. I shall therefore also propose that the Commission be required to take steps to make the system of controls as foolproof as possible. There's not much point in rules if these are simply on paper and nobody is obliged in reality to implement them.”

A further proposal from the SP Euro-MP concerns the responsibilities of shipowners. “By having ships broken up in places where there are no real rules and no controls, they often evade these responsibilities,” she notes. “But in my opinion this must change. Wherever you have your ship dismantled, as the owner you should remain responsible for the results of this.”

The most concrete measure which Liotard is putting forward involves limiting the export of ships for breaking up. “Discarded ships must be stripped of poisonous substances and of asbestos, and should only be broken up outside the EU if dismantling within the EU is physically impossible,” she says.

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