Skip to main content
Mobility and Transport
News article25 October 2017Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport2 min read

Maritime Transport: final adoption of the Passenger Ship Safety package

The European Commission welcomes the final adoption by the Council of the EU of three legal texts that simplify and improve passenger ship safety.

The adopted package ensures that the rules are clear, proportionate and deliver a common level of safety for EU citizens. For example, once fully implemented by Member States, all competent authorities will have immediate access to passenger data in case of emergency and all passenger ships longer than 24 meters made of steel and aluminium will be built according to common European safety standards.

EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: "The adoption of these new safety rules is an important deliverable in our EU maritime year. At times when citizens expect the European Union to protect them, we are sending a clear message: your safety is our priority. I applaud the constructive approach of the co-legislators that allowed reaching an agreement still in 2017."

The adopted package is a result of proposals made by the European Commission in June 2016, as a follow-up to the recommendations of the fitness check driven by the Commission's Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT) Programme. The update responds to lessons learnt, including from accidents, and technological developments. The new rules will provide for easier compliance for operators and better monitoring and enforcement for national competent authorities as well as the European Commission, assisted by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). The European Parliament had given its approval on 4 October.

Next steps

The new rules will enter into force 20 days after their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. Member States then have 2 years to transpose the updated rules into national legislation. Member States have 4 more years for the introduction of electronic data reporting. In the course of the coming months, the Commission will follow up on the remaining recommendations of the fitness check such as relating to standards for small passenger ships (below 24 meters in length) built from innovative materials.

Key changes

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

  1. Amendments to Directive 2009/45/EC on technical requirements for passenger ships on domestic voyages clarify that ships built in aluminium have to be certified according to this Directive and meet its fire safety requirements (in 10, respectively 12 years for new and existing aluminium ships after the amendments enter into force). Passenger ships below 24 metres are excluded from the scope of the Directive.
  2. Amendments to Directive 98/41/EC on registration of persons on board introduce the requirement to register passenger data in a digital manner, using harmonised administrative procedures (the so-called single window established under Directive 2010/65/EU) to facilitate search and rescue operations in case of emergency. For a period of 6 years after entry into force, Member States may continue to apply the old rules, i.e. keeping data concerning persons on board by the companies' registrar. The delay in reporting data on persons on board is shortened from 30 to 15 minutes after the ship's departure.
  3. A new Directive replacing and repealing Directive 1999/35/EC on surveys for passenger ferries and high-speed craft in regular service eliminates overlaps between various inspection regimes. This preserves the safety level while reducing the administrative burden on shipowners and rationalising the inspection efforts of Member States' authorities.

More information:

Passenger ship safety

Consultation on common EU rules for small passenger ships

Directive relating to safety rules and standards for passenger ships

Directive relating to the registration of persons and reporting formalities

Directive relating to inspections of ro-ro ferries and high-speed passenger craft


Publication date
25 October 2017
Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport