21.12.2018   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 461/220


Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions — Clean Ports, Clean Seas — port reception facilities for the delivery of waste from ships

(2018/C 461/18)

Rapporteur:

Spyros SPYRIDON (EL/EPP), Municipal Councillor of Poros

Reference document:

Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on port reception facilities for the delivery of waste from ships, repealing Directive 2000/59/EC and amending Directive 2009/16/EC and Directive 2010/65/EU

COM(2018) 33 final

I.   RECOMMENDATIONS FOR AMENDMENTS

Amendment 1

Article 5(4)

Text proposed by the European Commission

CoR amendment

Member States shall evaluate and approve the waste reception and handling plan, monitor its implementation and ensure its re-approval at least every three years after it has been approved or re-approved, and after significant changes in the operation of the port have taken place. These changes shall include, but not be limited to, structural changes in traffic to the port, development of new infrastructure, changes in the demand and provision of port reception facilities, and new on-board treatment techniques.

Member States shall evaluate and approve the waste reception and handling plan, monitor its implementation and ensure its re-approval at least every five years after it has been approved or re-approved, and after significant changes in the operation of the port have taken place. These changes shall include, but not be limited to, structural changes in traffic to the port, development of new infrastructure, changes in the demand and provision of port reception facilities, and new on-board treatment techniques.

Reason

The extension of the revision period will help the ports to better evaluate the effectiveness of the plan in application. The possibility remains for earlier adjustments and review in case of significant changes. The amendment is in line with the ongoing discussions in Parliament and Council.

Amendment 2

Article 7(4)

Text proposed by the European Commission

CoR amendment

The information referred to in paragraph 2 shall be kept on board for at least two years and shall be made available upon request to the Member States’ authorities.

The information referred to in paragraph 2 shall be kept for reference for at least two years and shall be made available upon request to the Member States’ authorities.

Reason

The EU should avoid creating bureaucratic obstacles where it is not necessary. The receipt issued to the ship could be stored in an electronic format as a scanned copy on ships.

Amendment 3

Article 8(4)

Text proposed by the European Commission

CoR amendment

The fees may be differentiated with respect to, inter alia, the category, type and size of the ship and the type of traffic the ship is engaged in, as well as with respect to services provided outside normal operating hours in the port.

The fees may be differentiated with respect to, inter alia, the category, type and size of the ship and the type of activity and traffic the ship is engaged in, as well as with respect to services provided outside normal operating hours in the port.

Reason

The amendment makes it easier to introduce exemptions for short sea shipping (e.g. ro-ro ships). These ships regularly serve the same ports, but differ from those that operate scheduled lines in that they do not necessarily have a specific route. Under both the current scheme and the one under discussion, it will continue to be impossible to explicitly differentiate fees.

The proposal also covers support vessels operating within ports.

Amendment 4

Article 8(6)

Text proposed by the European Commission

CoR amendment

In order to ensure that the fees are fair, transparent, non-discriminatory, and that they reflect the costs of the facilities and services made available, and, where appropriate, used, the amount of the fees and the basis on which they have been calculated shall be made available to the port users.

In order to ensure that the fees are fair, transparent, non-discriminatory, and that they reflect the costs of the facilities and services made available, and, where appropriate, used, including, in accordance with the provisions applicable to services of general economic interest, compensation costs that cannot exceed the costs incurred and a reasonable profit without overcompensation, the amount of the fees and the basis on which they have been calculated shall be made available to the port users.

Reason

The amendment makes it completely clear that the activity of waste reception and management, which is obligatory for both ports and ships, is a service of general economic interest. The provision emphasises the environmental dimension of the activity.

Amendment 5

Article 12(3)

Text proposed by the European Commission

CoR amendment

Member States shall establish procedures for inspections for fishing vessels below 100 gross tonnage as well as for recreational craft below 100 gross tonnage, to ensure compliance with the applicable requirements of this Directive.

Member States shall establish simplified procedures for inspections for fishing vessels below 100 gross tonnage as well as for recreational craft below 100 gross tonnage, to ensure compliance with the applicable requirements of this Directive and with the proportionality principle.

II.   POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS

Maritime activity is an integral part of the circular economy

1.

Welcomes the Commission’s communication and strategy on the circular economy. Promoting public and corporate environmental awareness and implementing specific policies to reduce waste and to re-use products and materials will contribute to sustainable development.

2.

Is therefore pleased that the present directive has been included in the strategy on the circular economy. Although marine pollution is primarily caused by land-based activities, we should not overlook the fact that it is also the result of human activity at sea.

3.

Reiterates that the MARPOL Convention establishes the framework for managing waste produced by ships, but does not include enforcement mechanisms. The present directive therefore brings European legislation into line with international treaty obligations, at the same time as clarifying the practical, legal and economic data and obligations regarding access to ships in EU ports.

4.

Regrets that Member States have to date interpreted the provisions of the previous directive differently, resulting in ambiguities for users, port authorities and reception facilities.

5.

Emphasises that the challenge is now to create incentives to deliver waste to ports, without placing a disproportional financial burden on ships or introducing excessive administrative procedures.

6.

Agrees with the Commission’s proposal for the sound management of shipping waste on-shore, an important step towards achieving the objectives of environmental protection.

7.

Highlights the urgent need to reduce the production of plastic waste and to promote the circular economy.

8.

Stresses, therefore, that promoting the circular economy on-board ships is of particular importance. This will call for crews, and passengers, to be trained in sorting and correctly storing waste. Training and separate collection are the preliminary steps for product re-use and entail costs, something that needs to be taken into account in the pricing of port services.

9.

In order to improve the management of shipping waste and promote a circular economy, it is important to give shipping companies the possibility of choosing the firms that will be in charge of waste reception from a catalogue of firms certified for this purpose.

Important regional dimension of the directive

10.

More than 700 ports in the EU will be required to implement the new directive. Some 750 000 ships call at these ports annually, from all the Member States. These ships produce between five and seven million tonnes of oily residues and over a million tonnes of solid waste annually, a fact that needs to be addressed.

11.

Notes the potential impact of the new directive on regional ports, particularly in the outermost regions and areas bordering on third country ports which will not be covered by the directive. By way of example, the cost of developing the necessary infrastructure, the payment of an obligatory fee and the mandatory delivery of waste will increase the administrative costs of ports, costs which will be passed on to users, thus affecting competitiveness, particularly in the case of regional ports.

12.

Points out that if each Member State had the freedom to design the system of fees it could lead to regional discrimination regarding responsibility for waste reception and contributions to infrastructure and management costs. The EU should therefore introduce strict controls on the way in which fees proposed by each Member State are calculated.

13.

Is also concerned that if the directive is partially implemented by EU ports, without similar measures being taken in respect of third country ports particularly in sea basins, it will have only a limited impact from an environmental point of view.

14.

Considers the regional dimension given by the Commission to the issue of waste management by ports as very positive, starting with Article 5 of the proposed directive. This enables Member States, as well as local and regional authorities and port users, to draw up plans for delivering and handling waste with the appropriate involvement of each port, according to local possibilities and needs, and allows for wider regional planning without excluding potential cross-border partnerships.

15.

For the above financial and environmental reasons, proposes that efforts be made to apply the directive more broadly to all ports in sea basins and neighbouring areas, by means of incentives and rewards and through more extensive programmes of cooperation in waste management.

16.

Welcomes the diversification of the programmes, reflecting the detailed situation and possibilities of each port, depending on the type of traffic they serve.

17.

Points out that in line with the subsidiarity principle, port authorities must continue to have the necessary flexibility in setting port fees and charges, and calls on these authorities to make every conceivable effort to ensure that fees are calculated with full transparency and proportionality, in accordance with the provisions of the directive.

18.

Supports the five-year timeframe for revising reception and management programmes.

19.

Anticipates that the proposed directive will have a positive impact on research into waste management and for the competitiveness of Europe’s regions in terms of tourism and quality of life.

The increased clarity of the procedures is a positive step

20.

Emphasises that residues from exhaust gas cleaning systems should also be disposed of properly and not end up in the sea. Therefore calls on the Commission to provide guidelines for the proper handling of these residues, while the Member States should then explore how this type of residue could be dealt with at the port level.

21.

Acknowledges that the fishing industry is both a source and victim of marine litter. In order to address the problem of passively fished litter, local initiatives like ‘Fishing for Litter’ have been successfully established, where passively fished litter can be disposed of free of charge — even if the port applies direct fees for delivery of waste. While welcoming the introduction of the ‘no special fee’ system, the CoR would like to highlight that passively fished litter — a potential source of revenue for the port reception facility, when recycled — should continue to be delivered free of charge, irrespectively of the quantity, in order to ensure that the process of collecting and transporting litter to recycling facilities runs smoothly. That would mean that if the fishing vessel has only passively fished litter to deliver, it should not be obliged to pay any fee.

22.

Proposes consequently that consideration be given to the possibility of including exhaust gas cleaning system residues among waste for delivery covered by the single fee, and in particular for regions governed by the environmental protection and controlled emissions system, such as the Baltic.

23.

Points out that introducing a single fee would provide a major incentive for waste to be delivered. Notes, however, that no measures are taken to reduce the generation of waste at source, which is at odds with the ‘polluter pays’ principle.

24.

Points out that it may not be possible to base the calculation of the single fee on forecasts of real requirements by receiving companies. It may consequently be difficult to determine in a transparent way.

25.

Notes that port facility reception procedures must be rapid and efficient in order to avoid unnecessary delays and additional costs for ships.

26.

Proposes that clear provision be made for shipping companies to choose, from a list of certified companies, the company or companies to be responsible for receiving and handling their waste, according to type.

27.

Welcomes the intention to define the ‘green ship’ concept as a step that could lead to a reduction of charges and is in line with the ‘polluter pays’ principle. Urges however that discussions on and definitions of ‘green ships’ take place at international rather than European level.

28.

Recalls that the lack of controls, or excessively high fees, may lead to waste being dumped in the sea with harmful consequences in not only environmental but also economic terms for surrounding regions and marine ecosystems.

29.

Emphasises that port activity is in itself damaging to the natural environment. It is therefore necessary to make it completely clear to the relevant authorities that the cost of receiving and handling shipping waste, which is a joint obligation on ships and ports, is not a permissible profit-making activity for ports.

30.

Calls on the Commission to consider attributing reduced fees to vessels engaged in short-sea shipping.

31.

Notes that recyclable materials belong to the vessel: the processing of such material can be profitable and commercially exploitable. This significant aspect must be reflected in charges for the delivery of waste collected at sea and of the resulting recyclable materials.

32.

At the same time calls on the competent authorities and operators to further develop systems to harness marine waste, making an active contribution to the circular economy.

33.

Urges the Commission to further clarify the meaning of ‘sufficient storage capacity’ in cooperation with the International Maritime Organisation in order to restrict ports’ discretion in determining this, and reduce the ensuing uncertainty for users.

34.

Calls for the introduction of a time-limit for the rapid completion of the digitalisation of the notification procedures and controls and the standardisation of the required documentation for all ports.

35.

Considers that keeping ship operators and port authorities informed regarding possible penalties in the event of infringement will make a significant contribution to the transparency of, as well as compliance with, the new regime.

36.

Calls therefore on the Member States, as far as possible, to set up a single framework of penalties, in order to prevent both unfair competition and ‘port-shopping’.

37.

Acknowledges that the Commission’s proposal complies with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, when it comes to implementing EU-wide rules on port reception facilities for the delivery of waste from ships.

Brussels, 10 October 2018.

The President of the European Committee of the Regions

Karl-Heinz LAMBERTZ