EU Council and Parliament Agree on EMSA Funding

The EU member states’ permanent representatives have endorsed the compromise reached between the Council and the European Parliament concerning a regulation to finance the actions of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) in the field of response to marine pollution caused by ships and oil and gas installations in the years 2014 to 2020.

EU Council and Parliament Agree on EMSA Funding

The financial envelope for the period from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2020 will be EUR 160.5 million expressed in current prices.

Annual amounts will be determined through the EU’s annual budgetary procedure, within the limits of the financial framework.

EMSA’s pollution response includes information, cooperation and coordination activities and, crucially, operational assistance, i.e. detection and clean-up of oil spills. The agency has contracts with a network of standby anti-pollution vessels to complement member states’ response capacity. These ships are ready to intervene rapidly, usually within 24 hours. Affected coastal states can request this assistance through the Community Civil Protection Mechanism. While EMSA pays for the contracts for these vessels when they are on standby, the costs of actual clean-up operations are covered by the countries themselves. In addition, EMSA provides a satellite-based oil spill detection and monitoring service called CleanSeaNet.

Previously EMSA’s remit covered only monitoring of and response to pollution from ships, but in 2013 its tasks were extended to pollution caused by oil and gas installations. The new regulation is intended to ensure that the agency has the funds needed to carry out these tasks.

Assistance by EMSA comes on top of national resources, and coastal states remain responsible for having appropriate pollution response mechanisms in place.

To come into effect, the text still needs to be formally approved by the Parliament, whose vote in plenary is expected to take place in April, and the Council, which is due to take its decision after the vote in Parliament.

The regulation will enter into force on the day after its publication in the EU Official Journal.

It will apply retroactively, from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2020.

Council of the European Union, March 17, 2014; Image: iStock