Maritime transport


Maritime transport rules enable trade and contacts between all European nations. It ensures security of supply of energy, food and commodities and provides the main vehicle for European imports and exports to the rest of the world.

The freedom to provide services applies to maritime transport. Shippers enjoy the right to operate maritime services between Member States as well as within one state without hindrance. The Authority ensures that these principles are respected by monitoring national legislation and practice.

Derogations from the general principle of free access are possible under certain conditions. For example, EFTA States may conclude exclusive public service contracts or impose public service obligations on shipping companies participating in regular services to, from and between islands. However, such contracts must not discriminate in grounds of nationality and public service obligations must be limited to requirements concerning ports to be served, regularity, continuity, frequency, capacity to provide the service, rates to be charged and manning of the vessel, and they must be available to all EEA ship-owners.

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Technical Harmonisation and Safety

Legislation improving maritime safety and promoting high-quality standards aims to:

  • eliminate substandard shipping
  • increase the protection of crews and passengers
  • reduce the risk of environmental pollution
  • ensure that operators who follow good practices are not put at a commercial disadvantage by others who are prepared to take short cuts with vessel safety

The legislation largely originates from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as well as from the EU.

The Authority ensures that the rules are implemented into the national legal orders of the EFTA States. Notifications and applications for exemptions/derogations must be sent to the Authority.

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Maritime Security

The main responsibility of the Authority in the field of maritime security is to carry out inspections in the EFTA States in order to assess the application of maritime transport security legislation, as incorporated into the EEA Agreement.

To ensure a consistent approach to inspections throughout the EEA, representatives from the Authority participate as observers in Commission maritime security inspections in EU Member States. Similarly, representatives from the Commission participate as observers in the Authority's inspections in the EFTA States.

The Authority also co-operates closely with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). EMSA provides inspectors with technical assistance in connection with ship and ship-related inspections.

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Other EEA Institutions

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