Directive 2009/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the
of 23 April 2009
establishing the fundamental principles governing the
investigation of accidents in the maritime transport sector and amending Council
Directive 1999/35/EC and Directive 2002/59/EC of the European Parliament and of the
(Text with EEA relevance)
THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,
Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community, and in
particular Article 80(2) thereof,
Having regard to the proposal from the Commission,
Having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee
Having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the
Acting in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 251 of the Treaty,
in the light of the joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee on 3 February
- A high general level of safety should be maintained in maritime transport in
Europe and every effort should be made to reduce the number of marine casualties and
- The expeditious holding of technical investigations into marine casualties
improves maritime safety, as it helps to prevent the recurrence of such casualties
resulting in loss of life, loss of ships and pollution of the marine
- The European Parliament, in its resolution of 21 April 2004 on improving
safety at sea4, has urged the
Commission to present a proposal for a directive on investigating shipping
- Article 2 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10
December 1982 (hereinafter referred to as UNCLOS) establishes the right of coastal
States to investigate the cause of any marine casualty occurring within their
territorial seas which might pose a risk to life or to the environment, involve the
coastal State's search and rescue authorities, or otherwise affect the coastal
- Article 94 of UNCLOS establishes that flag States are to cause an inquiry to
be held, by or before a suitably qualified person or persons, into certain
casualties or incidents of navigation on the high seas.
- Regulation I/21 of International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea of
1 November 1974 (hereinafter referred to as SOLAS 74), the International Convention
of Load Lines of 5 April 1966 and the International Convention for the Prevention of
Pollution from Ships of 2 November 1973 lay down the responsibilities of flag States
to conduct casualty investigations and to supply the International Maritime
Organisation (IMO) with relevant findings.
- The Code for the Implementation of Mandatory IMO Instruments annexed to
Resolution A.996(25) of the IMO Assembly of 29 November 2007 recalls the obligation
of flag States to ensure that marine safety investigations are conducted by suitably
qualified investigators, competent in matters relating to marine casualties and
incidents. That Code further requires flag States to be prepared to provide
qualified investigators for that purpose, irrespective of the location of the
casualty or incident.
- Account should be taken of the Code for the Investigation of Marine
Casualties and Incidents annexed to Resolution A.849(20) of the IMO Assembly of 27
November 1997 (hereinafter referred to as the IMO Code for the Investigation of
Marine Casualties and Incidents), which provides for implementation of a common
approach to the safety investigation of marine casualties and incidents and for
cooperation between States in identifying the contributing factors leading to marine
casualties and incidents. Account should also be taken of Resolution A.861(20) of
the IMO Assembly of 27 November 1997 and Resolution MSC.163(78) of the IMO Maritime
Safety Committee of 17 May 2004, which provide a definition of voyage data
- Seafarers are recognised as a special category of worker and, given the
global nature of the shipping industry and the different jurisdictions with which
they may be brought into contact, need special protection, especially in relation to
contacts with public authorities. In the interests of increased maritime safety,
seafarers should be able to rely on fair treatment in the event of a maritime
accident. Their human rights and dignity should be preserved at all times and all
safety investigations should be conducted in a fair and expeditious manner. To that
end, Member States should, in accordance with their national legislation, further
take into account the relevant provisions of the IMO guidelines on the fair
treatment of seafarers in the event of a maritime accident.
- Member States, acting in the framework of their legal systems, should
protect witness statements following an accident and prevent them from being used
for purposes other than safety investigations, with the objective of avoiding any
discriminatory or retaliatory measures being taken against witnesses because of
their participation in the investigations.
- Council Directive 1999/35/EC of 29 April 1999 on a system of mandatory
surveys for the safe operation of regular ro-ro ferry and high-speed passenger craft
services5 requires Member
States to define, in the framework of their respective legal systems, a legal status
that will enable them and any other substantially interested Member State to
participate, to cooperate in, or, where provided for under the IMO Code for the
Investigation of Marine Casualties and Incidents, to conduct any marine casualty or
incident investigation involving a ro-ro ferry or high-speed passenger
- Directive 2002/59/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27
June 2002 establishing a Community vessel traffic monitoring and information
system6 requires Member
States to comply with the IMO Code for the Investigation of Marine Casualties and
Incidents and ensure that the findings of the accident investigations are published
as soon as possible after its conclusion.
- Conducting safety investigations into casualties and incidents involving
seagoing vessels, or other vessels in ports or other restricted maritime areas, in
an unbiased manner is of paramount importance in order to effectively establish the
circumstances and causes of such casualties or incidents. Such investigations should
therefore be carried out by qualified investigators under the control of an
independent body or entity endowed with the necessary powers in order to avoid any
conflict of interest.
- Member States should, in compliance with their legislation as regards the
powers of the authorities responsible for the judicial inquiry and in collaboration
with those authorities, where appropriate, ensure that those responsible for the
technical inquiry are allowed to carry out their tasks under the best possible
- This Directive should be without prejudice to Directive 95/46/EC of the
European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of
individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement
- Member States should ensure that their legal systems enable them and any
other substantially interested Member States to participate or cooperate in, or
conduct, accident investigations on the basis of the provisions of the IMO Code for
the Investigation of Marine Casualties and Incidents.
- In principle, each marine casualty or incident should be subject to only one
investigation carried out by a Member State or a lead investigating Member State
with the participation of any other substantially interested States. In exceptional
duly justified cases involving two or more Member States in connection with the flag
of the ship concerned, the location of the casualty or the nationality of the
victims, parallel investigations could be conducted.
- A Member State may delegate to another Member State the task of leading a
marine casualty or incident safety investigation (hereinafter referred to as safety
investigation) or specific tasks of such investigation, if mutually
- Member States should make every effort not to charge for costs for
assistance requested in the framework of safety investigations involving two or more
Member States. Where assistance is requested from a Member State that is not
involved in the safety investigation, Member States should agree on the
reimbursement of costs incurred.
- Under Regulation V/20 of SOLAS 74, passenger ships and ships other than
passenger ships of 3000 gross tonnage and upwards constructed on or after 1 July
2002 must carry voyage data recorders to assist in accident investigations. Given
its importance in the formulation of a policy to prevent shipping accidents, such
equipment should be systematically required on board ships making national or
international voyages which call at Community ports.
- The data provided by a voyage data recording system, as well as by other
electronic devices, can be used both retrospectively after a marine casualty or
incident to investigate its causes and preventively to gain experience of the
circumstances capable of leading to such events. Member States should ensure that
such data, when available, are properly used for both
- Regulation (EC) No 1406/2002 of the European Parliament and of the
Council8 requires the
European Maritime Safety Agency (hereinafter referred to as the Agency) to work with
the Member States to develop technical solutions and provide technical assistance
related to the implementation of Community legislation. In the field of accident
investigation, the Agency has the specific task of facilitating cooperation between
the Member States and the Commission in the development, with due regard to the
different legal systems in the Member States, of a common methodology for
investigating maritime accidents according to agreed international
- In accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1406/2002, the Agency facilitates
cooperation in the provision of support given by the Member States in activities
concerning investigations, and in analysing existing accident investigation
- Any relevant lessons drawn from accident investigations should be taken into
account in the development or modification of a common methodology for investigating
marine casualties and incidents.
- The safety recommendations resulting from a safety investigation should be
duly taken into account by the Member States and the
- Since the aim of the technical safety investigation is the prevention of
marine casualties and incidents, the conclusions and the safety recommendations
should in no circumstances determine liability or apportion
- Since the objective of this Directive, namely to improve maritime safety in
the Community and thereby reduce the risk of future marine casualties, cannot be
sufficiently achieved by the Member States and can therefore, by reason of the scale
or the effects of the action, be better achieved at Community level, the Community
may adopt measures, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity as set out in
Article 5 of the Treaty. In accordance with the principle of proportionality, as set
out in that Article, this Directive does not go beyond what is necessary in order to
achieve that objective.
- The measures necessary for the implementation of this Directive should be
adopted in accordance with Council Decision 1999/468/EC of 28 June 1999 laying down
the procedures for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the
- In particular, the Commission should be empowered to amend this Directive in
order to apply subsequent amendments to the international conventions, protocols,
codes and resolutions related thereto and to adopt or modify the common methodology
for investigating marine casualties and incidents. Since those measures are of
general scope and are designed to amend non-essential elements of this Directive,
inter alia, by supplementing it with new non-essential elements, they must be
adopted in accordance with the regulatory procedure with scrutiny provided for in
Article 5a of Decision 1999/468/EC.
- In accordance with point 34 of the Interinstitutional Agreement on better
law-making10, Member States
are encouraged to draw up, for themselves and in the interests of the Community,
their own tables illustrating, as far as possible, the correlation between this
Directive and the transposition measures, and to make them
HAVE ADOPTED THIS DIRECTIVE:
1OJ C 318, 23.12.2006, p. 195.
2OJ C 229, 22.9.2006, p. 38.
3Opinion of the European Parliament of 25 April 2007 (OJ C 74 E, 30.3.2008,
p. 546), Council Common Position of 6 June 2008 (OJ C 184 E, 22.7.2008, p. 23),
Position of the European Parliament of 24 September 2008 (not yet published in the
Official Journal), Council Decision of 26 February 2009 and Legislative Resolution
of the European Parliament of 11 March 2009 (not yet published in the Official
4OJ C 104 E, 30.4.2004, p. 730.
5OJ L 138, 1.6.1999, p. 1.
6OJ L 208, 5.8.2002, p. 10.
7OJ L 281, 23.11.1995, p. 31.
8OJ L 208, 5.8.2002, p. 1.
9OJ L 184, 17.7.1999, p. 23.
10OJ C 321, 31.12.2003, p. 1.