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Marine Equipment

Marine Equipment

High quality marine equipment is indispensable for the safe operation of a ship, life-saving capabilities and the protection of the marine environment. Therefore the international maritime safety conventions require flag States to ensure that the equipment carried on board ships complies with certain safety requirements as regards design, construction and performance, and to issue the relevant certificates demonstrating the compliance. To that end, detailed performance and testing standards for certain types of marine equipment have been developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and by the international and European standardisation bodies. However, the agreed international regulatory framework leaves significant margin of discretion to the flag administrations in terms of how to implement the rules. This can lead to different interpretations and consequently, different levels of safety for the certified marine equipment.

Directive 2014/90/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council lays down common rules for the certification of marine equipment and intends to eliminate differences in the interpretation and implementation of international standards by means of a clearly identified set of requirements and uniform certification procedures. The main aim of the Directive is to ensure, as far as possible, that marine equipment on EU flagged ships is designed and constructed to appropriate standards.

Given that marine equipment is placed on board ships at the time of their construction or repair all over the world, market surveillance becomes particularly difficult. Member States are required to ensure that only compliant equipment is installed on board ships flying their flags and that this obligation is fulfilled through issuance, endorsement or renewal of the certificates of such ships. Further support is provided by the Union market surveillance framework laid down in Chapter III of Regulation (EC) No 765/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council. In addition of the common legal requirements, Member States are supported in fulfilling those obligations by the information systems made available by the Commission for the assessment, notification and monitoring of bodies authorised to carry out conformity assessment tasks, the sharing of information in relation to approved marine equipment, applications withdrawn or refused, and non-compliance of equipment.

The Directive places a number of key requirements on the European Commission as well, the technical elements of which have become the responsibility of EMSA. These include:

  • monitoring of developments relating to performance and testing standards
  • preparation of updates for technical annexes of the Directive
  • monitoring of the work of the group of notified bodies which certify marine equipment on behalf of the Member States
  • development and management of the database of EU approved marine equipment and the associated technical secretariat
  • provision of technical support to the European Commission in proposing amendments to the Marine Equipment Directive
  • provision of technical input to the work of the joint committee which manages the MRA+ agreement between the European Community and the United States of America
  • provision of assistance to the European Commission in further developing the technical annex to the MRA+ agreement