No extension for the 2015 sulphur deadline

The European Commission on 25 January told France it will not authorise any EU country to seek an extension of the deadline for the 2015 sulphur limit of 0.10 per cent for marine fuels used in the European Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECA) covering the Baltic Sea and the North Sea including the English Channel.

The statement from the Commission came in response to a proposal from the French shipowners interest group Armateurs de France (AdF) to seek a three-year extension of the deadline for ships already in service in the Channel and North Sea.

In a so-called non-paper, the Commission concludes that raising the general issue of deadlines for implementation “may be wrongly perceived as an attempt to overturn the agreement reached [in IMO in 2008].” It also argues that such a move could create additional hurdles for those in the process of implementing the new provisions, thus jeopardising orders for scrubbers and refinery investments. Furthermore, plans could be postponed for a much-needed LNG infrastructure to make the industry resilient for the longer term.

The Commission continues to say that the implementation of the new directive is also a key measure to help member states resolve lingering non-compliance cases related to EU air quality standards, notably related to particulate matter which cause the most significant human health impacts. Several impact assessments demonstrated that reducing emissions from maritime transport featured amongst the most cost-effective measures. Failing to tap that potential would require action in other sectors, including the public sector, or else member states would risk penalties in the range of several of millions of euros.

Directive 2012/33/EU on the sulphur content of marine fuels (amending directive 1999/32/EC) was published in the EU’s Official Journal on 27 November 2012 and entered into force on 17 December 2012. Member states have until 18 June 2014 to transpose the directive into their national law.

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