MEPs have voted to back Green proposals to end the practise of European ships being scrapped in hazardous conditions in developing countries, where dangerous materials routinely leak into the environment and some of the world’s poorest-paid workers are subjected to dangerous conditions.
But the new rules are in danger of failure before they even come into force after a fierce lobbying campaign from the shipping industry backed by UK Tory MEPs has ensured the establishment of an EU fund to help pay for alternatives has been abandoned.
London’s Green MEP Jean Lambert said: “Currently, most EU ships are sent to South and East Asia at the end of their lives, where they are beached, with their hazardous materials leaking into the environment and causing unacceptable conditions for human health and the environment. This is an opprobrious practise, which circumvents EU rules under which the export of hazardous waste to non-OECD countries is outlawed.
“The European Parliament’s Environment Committee had almost unanimously supported the creation of various forms of financial incentives to safely scrap ships, including a scrapping fund financed by the industry itself. This would have steered ships that trade with the EU into proper ship recycling facilities.
“This has now been eliminated, despite repeated requests of the EP for a financial mechanism in previous years.
“It is very frustrating to see that the scaremongering by European ports has led MEPs – with the backing of the UK Tories – to reverse that long-standing position.
“However, Parliament has made it clear it wants tougher action across the EU to deal with unsafe practices. I hope the UK Government will be supporting us on that at least.”