Monday, July 25, 2005

Ship ahoy!

Slovakia and Hungary are being served notice that the Commission is about to take them to the European Court of Justice for not complying with certain parts of EU legislation.

Apparently, neither country has implemented a number of directives on maritime safety. Slovakia is being warned about having no legislation to do with passenger ships and prevention of pollution.

Hungary has no “availability of port facilities for ship-generated waste”. Actually, Hungary has no ports or ships, being land-locked, as is Slovakia. That, apparently, is not the point.

Slovakia has about 20 ships that fly its flag but trade elsewhere, though they are not passenger ships and, therefore, do not come under the relevant directive.

As for Hungary, according to the Commission:
“Though it has no maritime ports, Hungary has a maritime register. Transposition of the directive by Hungary is therefore needed in view of the obligations on masters of ships.”
How this can be done if there is no physical facility, like a sea shore, remains a mystery, but the Commission may well take these two countries to court, which may well impose various fines. Since these are never paid by countries like France or Italy, this may not worry anybody too much.

What may have confused the Commission is the historic fact that for 25 years between the two wars, Hungary was ruled by Admiral Horthy, though it had no navy and no seashore. He was also the Regent, though Hungary had ceased to be a monarchy in 1918.

The Slovak spokeswoman at the London embassy has clearly understood how the EU operates:

“We have no coastline but it looks as if we are going to have to implement all these laws anyway.”

Not that different from the old Communist system, really, in its illogicality.

However, one question does arise. What of countries like the Czech Republic, Austria and, indeed, Luxembourg? Have they implemented all the directives?

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