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Summaries of EU Legislation

Maritime safety: Committee on Safe Seas

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Maritime safety: Committee on Safe Seas

The regulation sets up a Committee on Safe Seas and the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (COSS). It assists and advises the European Commission on the implementation of EU law on maritime safety, pollution prevention and onboard living and working conditions for crew.


Regulation (EC) No 2099/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 November 2002 establishing a Committee on Safe Seas and the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (COSS) and amending the Regulations on maritime safety and the prevention of pollution from ships



It sets up the COSS Committee comprising representatives of the EU Member States and chaired by the Commission. Its role is to assist in the timely updating and amending of EU maritime legislation. It centralises the work previously done by a number of committees set up under different EU laws in the field.



The COSS's work deals with wide-ranging aspects covered by EU maritime legislation such as:

  • port reception facilities: (where ships can deposit their waste or residues from their cargo) in order to reduce discharges into the sea and thus prevent marine pollution;
  • marine equipment: safety of products - but also services - supplied for the building, conversion and maintenance of ships (seagoing and inland) and maritime structures, like oil platforms;
  • passenger ships , safety of ferries and cruise ships and onboard living conditions;
  • minimum levels of training of seafarers.

International rules

Many developments in EU maritime law are driven by changes agreed in international organisations, such as the International Maritime Organisation or the International Labour Organisation.

Conformity checking procedure

To ensure that there is no conflict between EU maritime law and agreements reached at international level, EU countries and the Commission cooperate and coordinate to define a common EU position.

There is a conformity checking procedure which allows the COSS to examine any amendments to a convention or resolution adopted at international level which would have the effect of lowering EU standards. An emergency meeting of the COSS may be called at the initiative of the Commission or at the request of an EU country to examine the amendments involved and to issue an opinion on appropriate EU measures.

As a precaution, the Commission can also, where appropriate, ask EU countries to suspend or delay any plans to accept or apply the international amendment concerned.

COSS's powers

The work of the COSS accelerates and simplifies the incorporation of international rules into EU legislation by allowing amendments to these rules to apply directly, subject to a prior conformity check.

Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 lays down the rules and principles concerning the European Commission’s implementing powers (comitology). By means of the COSS, EU countries control the Commission's exercise of the implementing powers delegated to it by the various directives and regulations adopted in the field of EU maritime law.


From 19 December 2002.

For further information, see the European Commission's Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport website.



Date of entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) 2099/2002



OJ L 324, 29.11.2002, pp. 1-5

last update 15.03.2015