Skip to main content
Mobility and Transport
News article22 September 2016Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport2 min read

European Commission adopts proposals to simplify and improve passenger ship safety rules

European Commission adopts proposals to simplify and improve passenger ship safety rules

Today the Commission has adopted a number of legislative proposals to simplify and improve the common rules on safety of ships carrying passengers in EU waters. The update is a response to lessons learnt, including from accidents, and technological developments. It will, among others, allow immediate access of competent authorities to relevant data in case of emergency ensuring that search and rescue operations can be dealt with more effectively.

EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: "Offering the highest safety standards to passengers across all transport modes is one of my top priorities. The update we are proposing aims to enhance safety by clarifying the rules and by making the best use of recent technological developments. We also propose to remove some redundant and costly requirements. This clearly is Better Regulation at work."

The proposals deliver on the recommendations of the fitness check driven by the Commission's Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT) Programme which showed that applicable rules in this domain need to be simplified and updated. In consequence, the safety of some 400 million passengers travelling on average every year in EU waters can be ensured in a more effective and efficient manner.

These are the key changes to the safety standards and requirements for passenger ships sailing in EU waters:

  1. The proposal amending Directive 2009/45/EC on technical requirements for passenger ships on domestic voyages clarifies that ships built in aluminium have to be certified according to this Directive and meet its fire safety requirements. It is also proposed to exclude ships below 24 metres from the scope of the Directive, for which its prescriptive standards proved to be difficult to adapt in practice. National rules for such ships can generally take better account of local circumstances.
  2. The proposal amending Directive 98/41/EC on registration of persons on board introduces the requirement to register passenger data in a digital manner, using harmonised administrative procedures (the so-called National Single Window established under Directive 2010/65/EU) to facilitate search and rescue operations in case of emergency. Currently data concerning persons on board is kept by the companies' registrar. The proposal also introduces flexibility for operators on shorter voyages.
  3. The proposal replacing and repealing Directive 1999/35/EC on surveys for passenger ferries and high-speed craft in regular service aims at eliminating overlaps between various inspection regimes. This will preserve the safety level while reducing the administrative burden on shipowners and rationalise the inspection efforts of Member States' authorities.
  4. Staff working documents:

Next steps:

In the coming months, while the EU co-legislators discuss these proposals, the Commission will follow up on the remaining recommendations of the fitness check. These relate primarily to increasing the level of survivability of passenger ships in damaged condition at international level and developing a set of new, goal based standards for small passenger ships built from innovative materials such as fibre-reinforced plastic.

More information:

Passenger ship safety


Publication date
22 September 2016
Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport