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Maritime safety: compensation fund for oil pollution damage

This summary has been archived and will not be updated, because the summarised document is no longer in force or does not reflect the current situation.

Maritime safety: compensation fund for oil pollution damage

This proposal aims to improve the liability and compensation arrangements for pollution damage caused by ships.


Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the establishment of a fund for the compensation of oil pollution damage in European waters and related measures [COM (2000) 802 final - Official Journal C 120 E, 24 April 2001].



This proposal for a regulation forms part of the second package of Community measures on maritime safety. Following the sinking of the Erika, the Commission came to the conclusion that the existing liability and compensation arrangements failed to offer sufficient guarantees against oil pollution damage.

The objective of this proposal from the Commission is to set up a supplementary fund covering liability and compensation for pollution damage caused by oil tankers, designated COPE (Compensation for Oil Pollution in European waters fund), to pay compensation to the victims of oil spills in European waters.

The COPE Fund would top up the CLC (Convention on Liability of the Carrier) and IOPC (International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage) systems in force at international level.


The objective of this proposal is to ensure adequate compensation for pollution damage in EU waters resulting from the transport of oil by sea and to introduce a financial penalty to be imposed on any person found to have contributed to an oil pollution incident.

The proposed regulation would apply to safeguard measures to prevent or minimise such risks and to pollution damage caused:

  • in the territory, including the territorial sea, of a Member State;
  • in the exclusive economic zone of a Member State, established in accordance with international law;
  • if a Member State has not established such a zone, in an area beyond the territorial sea of that State and extending not more than 200 nautical miles.

A Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution will be established to provide compensation to the extent that the protection afforded by the CLC Convention and the IOPC Convention is inadequate.

To this end, the COPE Fund will pay compensation to any person who is entitled to compensation for pollution damage under the IOPC Convention but who has been unable to obtain full and adequate compensation under that Convention.

No compensation will be paid by the COPE Fund until the Commission has approved the results of the relevant assessment of entitlement.

The Commission may decide not to pay compensation to any person in a contractual relationship with the carrier in respect of the operation during which the incident occurred.

Each Member State will be required to communicate to the Commission the name and address of any person who is liable to contribute to the COPE Fund. For the purposes of ascertaining who are liable to contribute to the COPE Fund and of establishing, where applicable, the quantities of oil to be taken into account for each such person, a list must be compiled and kept up to date by the Commission.

Member States will also have to lay down a system for imposing financial penalties on any person found by a court of law to have contributed, by wrongful intentional or grossly negligent acts or omissions, to an incident causing or threatening to cause oil pollution.

Three years after the entry into force of the regulation at the latest, the Commission will submit a report on the efforts made at international level to improve the international insurance and compensation arrangements.


Codecision procedure (COD/2002/0326)

On 12 June 2002 the Commission adopted an amended proposal.

On 12 June 2002 the amended proposal was submitted to the European Parliament.

Last updated: 01.06.2007