I am pleased to inform you that on 10 December 2015, the Council of the European Union adopted two Council Decisions authorising EU Member States to ratify or accede to the 2010 HNS Convention, if possible within four years of entry into force of these Decisions. As parts of the Convention fall under the EU’s exclusive competence in the area of maritime transport, EU Member States needed to be authorised to be able to ratify or accede to it which is the purpose of the first Decision. In addition, the Convention contains provisions that affect EU secondary legislation on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters, issues which are covered by the second Council decision.
Based on a proposal from the European Commission in June this year, discussions had been taking place at Council-level on whether EU Member States should be instructed to take the necessary measures and within a certain time to ratify or accede to the 2010 HNS Convention. The Commission’s proposal was backed by the shipping industry, with the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and BIMCO jointly presenting a position paper stressing their support for the early entry into force of the 2010 Convention. As part of those discussions, the IOPC Funds’ Director and I, attended a meeting of the Council’s Shipping Working Party on 2 December 2015, providing presentations on both the legal framework of the Convention and the reporting obligations and practicalities which receivers of HNS will be subject to in the period leading to the Convention’s entry into force.
The two Decisions agreed by the Council (decisions 13806/15 and 14112/15) will now be sent to the European Parliament for its consent before publication, but even at this stage, the Council’s support for the Convention is clearly a positive step towards its entry into force.