The European Parliament is updating regulations for passenger ships and ferries to close loopholes in safety inspections and extend the scope to cover new types of ships. The rules also require digital transmission of passenger data to national authorities, so that the information can be passed on to rescue services and families in the event of an accident.
More than 400 million people pass through EU ports each year. Current legislation assures very high safety, but accidents still happen. Although very infrequent, over the years, cruise ship and ferry disasters have resulted in hundreds of deaths, from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean and the North Sea. In some cases, search and rescue efforts have been hampered by inaccurate or incomplete passenger lists. But under new EU rules, passenger data would be sent digitally to national authorities within 15 minutes of a ship's departure. That includes nationality; mobile phone number; an emergency contact; and any information about special needs. Technical standards have also been updated for ships' construction, fire protection and stability. Mandatory inspections must be done throughout the year. There are already robust rules in place governing the construction, inspections and safety procedures for passenger ships. The scope of those regulations will now be extended to new kinds of ships. They are also being adapted to keep pace with evolution in ship design and operation as well as the sector's technology.