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Mobility and Transport
News article4 March 2022Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport1 min read

New rules to upgrade safety of passenger ferries

New rules to increase ferry safety were put forward by the European Commission on 18 February 2022. The proposal will help protect passengers from flooding on board after a collision. The rules also align the EU with international requirements set by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

The proposal applies to newly built ships and to those certified to operate in the EU for the first time. In particular, ferries carrying more than 1,350 persons will have to apply internationally agreed safety requirements. For smaller ferries carrying fewer than 1,350 persons and operating in European waters, stricter safety requirements will apply, which go beyond those applied in other world regions.

Roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) passenger ships, commonly known as ferries, play an essential role in connecting maritime areas within the EU, and with neighbouring countries. Approximately 1,100 ro-ro passenger ships flying the EU flag provide services to EU ports, transporting millions of passengers each year, alongside several hundred ferries flagged in other countries.

Ferries are particularly vulnerable to flooding because they have large decks to transport vehicles. This is why, drawing on the International Maritime Organization Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), the proposed Directive on stability requirements for ro-ro passenger ships defines specific criteria to ensure they stay afloat, even when a collision causes flooding.

These requirements apply to all ro-ro passenger ships operating a regular service to or from a port of an EU Member State, regardless of their flag, when operating international crossings. It also applies to domestic crossings (i.e. within a Member State) more than three miles away from the coast, for example from Barcelona to Mallorca.

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 Organisation


Publication date
4 March 2022
Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport