On 22 May 2007, the European Commission published a Green Paper on better ship scrapping (BSD-001). The motives for this Green Paper are the environmentally unfriendly and unsafe practice of ship dismantling in Asia. Studies show that 80% of the ships are scrapped in a environmentally unfriendly way and are unsafe for the workers.
In May 2009, the IMO adopted the "Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships". The convention will not come into force before 2013-2014. In the first place, the EU Green Paper on the dismantling of ships therefore firstly addresses the transition period until the launch of the IMO convention.
The European Commission believes that most of the ships are scrapped in a way which is harmful for the workers and the environment. The European Parliament published a report on 21 May 2008 (BSD-002, for the full resolution: BSD-003), where it confirmed the statements of the Commission. The European Parliament called for legislative action before 2010, without waiting for the IMO Convention. A more accurate control could result in a better observing of the European legislation on the transition of waste (see chapter 39). It has to be made clear when the life cycle of a ship has come to an end and when a ship should be considered as waste. Ships that are considered as dangerous waste should only be scrapped or cleaned in a Member State of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The European Parliament also wants measures to make environmentally friendly recycling economically viable within the Union. The European Commission also ordered the setting up of measures to promote the transfer of know-how to places where ships are currently being dismantled.
On 23 March 2012, the European Commission proposed new rules to ensure that European ships are only recycled in facilities that are safe for workers and environmentally sound. The new rules, which will take the form of a Regulation, propose a system of survey, certification and authorisation for large commercial seagoing vessels that fly the flag of an EU Member State, covering their whole life cycle from construction to operation and recycling. This system builds upon the Hong Kong Convention for the safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships, which was adopted in 2009. The Commission proposal aims to implement the convention quickly, without waiting for its ratification and entry into force, a process which will take several years. To speed up the formal entry into force of the Hong Kong Convention, the Commission also presented a draft decision requiring Member States to ratify the convention. The Council and European Parliament are now discussing the Commission proposal.
Some relevant documents:
BSD-003: European Parliament resolution of 21 May 2008 on the Green Paper on better ship dismantling (2007/2279(INI)) (European Parliament)
BSD-002: Report on the Green Paper on better ship dismantling (2007/2279(INI) (European Parliament)
BSD-001: Green Paper. On better ship dismantling (European Commission)