In December 2015, acting on an initiative by the European Commission, the Council of the European Union (representing Member States) adopted a decision allowing EU Member States to ratify or accede to the 2010 HNS Convention, preferably within four years. This decision was subject to consent by the European Parliament, which this week decided to neither approve nor reject the decision but instead issue a set of demands which must be met prior to consent. This risks severely delaying the process of coordinated accession and ratification of EU Member States to the convention.
ECSA, European Community Shipowners' Association, has throughout the process urged for a solution allowing Member States to ratify the 2010 HNS Convention soonest. This is important in order to avoid a mixed regime and the negative consequences this would have for EU citizens, the well-functioning international liability and compensation regime, and the shipping industry.
“We hope that the upcoming Slovakian Presidency of the EU will put effort into solving the disagreement between the Council and the European Parliament, in order to arrive at a solution as soon as possible”, says Viggo Bondi, Director of legal affairs at the Norwegian Shipowners' Association. Norway's ratification of the 2010 HNS Convention is likely to depend on when remaining European countries will ratify it.