States wary of EU sanctions on ship polluters

Transport ministers say any penal measures must be agreed solely between governments

European transport ministers have rejected European Commission proposals for an EU directive tabled in the wake of the Prestige tanker disaster to include tough penal sanctions against ship owners guilty of polluting the oceans. Instead they want any common sanctions to be agreed between governments with minimal involvement from other EU institutions.

Meeting in Luxembourg on Thursday, a clear majority of transport ministers said tough penal sanctions involving imprisonment and extradition should be treated under the EU's obscure third pillar. This mechanism excludes the Commission and European parliament from decision-making and requires unanimous agreement from member states.

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