Some EU flag states "struggling" to make the grade

DECEMBER 19, 2013 — Some EU Member States are struggling to meet their commitment to ratify international maritime conventions, according to a European Commission report  on compliance with flag state requirements.

The Commission says it will "reflect on further measures to ensure EU Member States effectively and consistently discharge their obligations as flag states, including possible infringement proceedings."

Under the current EU legislation, EU Member States are required to undergo IMO's voluntary audit scheme set up in 2006: a peer review by other flag state experts. To date Portugal and the EU land-locked flag states of Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia have failed to ask for such an audit. Equally, a further independent quality check on EU flag state systems and procedures is provided by a certified quality management system requirement which should have been in place by June 17, 2012. Portugal and Ireland — along with the EU land-locked flag states — have yet to start this process, while four other EU flag states (Cyprus, Malta, the Netherlands and Slovenia) have indicated they will have such a system in place by the end of 2013.

Despite good progress for many EU flag states, Bulgaria and Slovakia remain on the Paris MOU gray list of flag states in terms of the number of their ships detained, or the number of deficiencies detected on board, whilst being checked when in port. This means that the ships under these flags are not yet in the low risk category — hence they need to be checked more often.