Council Common Position on the draft Regulation on the liability of carriers of passengers by sea

The Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) published on July 29th a Common Position adopted by the Council with a view to adopt a Regulation on the liability of carriers of passengers by sea in the event of accidents. This Regulation aims to enhance safety in maritime transport, within the framework of the common transport policy.

The main objective of the proposed regulation is to incorporate into Community law the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea of 1974, as amended by its protocol of 2002.

In addition, the Commission's proposal includes several adaptations of the Athens Convention and additional measures such as the extension of the scope of application to domestic traffic as well as to traffic by inland waterways, the removal of the possibility for Member States under the Athens Convention in fixing limits of liability higher than those provided for in the Athens Convention. Furthermore, the proposal includes a provision according to which for damage or loss of mobility equipment/medical equipment belonging to a passenger with reduced mobility, the compensation shall be equivalent at the maximum, to the replacement value of the equipment. And similar to the air and rail sectors, the proposal provides for advance payments in case of death of, or personal injury to a passenger, as well as pre-journey information to passengers.

The common position, as agreed by the Council, updates the regulation by changing, among others the provisions concerning the scope, the relation between the regulation and other international conventions on global limitation of liability, the advance payments and the transitory provision of the regulation.

The common position incorporates a large number of the European Parliament's first-reading amendments, improving or clarifying some aspects of the draft text. However, other amendments are not reflected in the common position. Among other, the Council is, as the Commission, of the opinion that the review of the tasks of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) should not be dealt within this regulation as it is a different subject matter.

Council's analysis of the draft text is specially focused on:

  • Scope, the Council considers that the provisions of this Regulation should not be extended to carriage on inland waterways as the may not take into account the specificities of such type of transportation.
  • Incorporation of the Athens Convention and other International Maritime Organization (IMO) measures
  • Applicable ceilings
  • Simultaneous application of other international conventions concerning the limitation of liability of shipowners
  • Advanced payment
  • Information to passenger
  • Delayed application