Members' Research Service By / August 31, 2022

Safety of ro-ro passenger ships: Stability requirements [EU Legislation in Progress]

Ferries provide for many maritime links within and between Member States, and with third countries, and are important to passenger and freight transport in Europe.

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Written by Karin Jacobs (3rd edition, updated on 04.07.2023).

In the framework of the Commission’s Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT) and Better Regulation agenda, and as announced in the 2011 White Paper on Transport, the Commission has presented a legislative proposal to amend existing rules on damage stability requirements for roll on roll off (ro-ro) passenger ships, known as ferries. This is to improve the maritime safety of both vessels and their passengers.

The revision of the existing directive originates from maritime accidents, such as the MS Estonia in 1994 and the MS Express Samina in 2000. It would ensure consistency with the applicable international standards, recently updated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) under its 2020 International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). It also aims to strengthen the fleet entry requirements within the EU for large vessels that have not yet been certified here. The proposal will amend the existing Directive (2003/25/EC) in this area. The main purpose is to align current technical rules with IMO stability requirements, and to simplify these rules.

Negotiators for the Parliament and Council reached a provisional agreement on the proposal in December 2022, after which it was formally adopted by Parliament in plenary on 14 March 2023 and subsequently by Council on 25 April. The final act was published in the Official Journal on 15 May 2023, and Member States have until 5 December 2024 to transpose it into national law.


Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2003/25/EC as regards the inclusion of improved stability requirements and its alignment with stability requirements defined by the International Maritime Organization
Committee responsible:Transport and Tourism (TRAN)COM(2022) 0053
Rapporteur:Roberts Zile, ECR, Latvia)2022/0036(COD)
Shadow rapporteurs:Magdalena Adamowicz, EPP, Poland
Vera Tax, S&D, The Netherlands
Caroline Nagtegaal, Renew, The Netherlands
Jutta Paulus, Greens/EFA, Germany
Elena Kountoura, The Left, Greece
Ordinary legislative procedure (COD) (Parliament and Council on equal footing – formerly ‘co-decision’)
Next steps expected: Directive (EU) 2023/946
OJ L 128, 15.5.2023, pp. 1–10.

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