The meeting was a follow up of a workshop organised by EMSA on 13th and 14th February on awareness raising for the upcoming Sulphur Regulation and its consistent implementation as from 1 January 2020 by Mediterranean countries.
The meeting started with a presentation by France on their study on the feasibility of an ECA zone in the Mediterranean Sea, stating that air quality remains as a priority for European authorities. A presentation by REMPEC came after that, focusing on the detailed process towards the designation of a Mediterranean Sea area, or parts thereof, as a SOx ECA under MARPOL Annex VI within the framework of the Barcelona Convention. The European Commission complemented the two presentations made, by informing the participants on the result of the third feasibility study carried out by IIASA in support of the designation of additional ECAs in EU waters with a focus on the Mediterranean Sea.
A general support towards the goal of the designation of SOx ECA in the Mediterranean Sea was the overall outcome of the meeting. Nonetheless, the need to prioritize actions to promote the ratification of MARPOL Annex VI by those countries still pending to do so, the need to ensure the possibility of bunkering low sulphur fuels as well as maintaining fair competition among all the ports in the Mediterranean Sea, the potential economic impact in some areas heavily depending on maritime traffic were also discussed. Namely, participants agreed that concrete actions must be adhered prior to the finalisation of the submission.
REMPEC also presented a detailed roadmap towards the possible designation of a Med SOx ECA. All representatives from the EU Member States and SAFEMED IV Beneficiary Countries supported to continue the work on SOx MARPOL Annex VI ECA and recognized the value of the roadmaps presented.
Regarding SAFEMED IV, the European Maritime Safety Agency reinstated its support with more focused actions in this sense to the respective beneficiary countries of the SAFEMED IV project, including support for the ratification of MAPROL Annex VI. These efforts will be complemented by the help that will be offered by REMPEC to the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention during the biennium 2020-2021.