This reform is crucial for ensuring cleaner seas. We are putting an end to any financial advantage ships may have had in dumping their waste into the sea.

...said Norbert Hofer, Minister for Transport, Innovation and Technology of Austria, President of the Council.

Under the new rules:

  • Ships will have to pay an indirect fee, which will give them the right to deliver their waste to a port, and which will have to be paid regardless of whether or not they deliver any waste. This fee will also apply to fishing vessels and recreational craft, which means that it will also help prevent end-of-life fishing nets and passively fished waste going directly into the sea. The fee will be based on the principle of cost recovery.
  • In certain cases, if a ship delivers an exceptional amount of waste, an additional direct fee may be charged to ensure that the costs related to receiving such waste do not create a disproportionate burden for a port's cost recovery system.
  • In contrast, a reduced waste fee will be applied for short sea shipping and for 'green ships', meaning vessels that can demonstrate reduced quantities of waste and sustainable onboard waste management.
  • Additionally, the new directive will improve the efficiency of maritime operations in port by cutting red tape for industry and other stakeholders. Its provisions will also be more consistent with EU waste legislation, for example by stipulating that ports must have waste reception and handling plans.
  • Finally, the new directive will align EU legislation with MARPOL, which has been amended since the current directive was adopted in 2000.

Landlocked member states which do not have ports or ships flying their flag will not be obliged to transpose the directive or certain parts of it.

The proposal was presented by the Commission in January 2018 as part of the 'circular economy package'. The provisional agreement was endorsed by the meeting of ambassadors in the Council's Permanent Representatives Committee.

The agreed text will now undergo legal and linguistic finalisation. It must then be formally adopted, first by the Parliament and then by the Council. Following adoption, the regulation will be published in the EU's Official Journal. It will enter into force 20 days after publication. After that, member states will have two years to adopt national provisions to comply with the directive.