MEP Corinne Lepage (ALDE, France), chair of the Seas and Coastal Areas Intergroup in the European Parliament, has said she wants to put the idea of creating a specific EU fund for compensating victims of oil spills "back on the agenda".The idea was first suggested by the European Commission in 2000, after the sinking of the petrol tanker Erika off the French coast. The suggestion was abandoned, but three years later the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) agreed on a substantial increase in international compensation levels(1) and therefore the idea could re-appear.

Lepage was speaking at a seminar hosted by the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR), on 24 April, at the European Parliament in Brussels. She called "for EU law to be strengthened so that no actor involved is immune from liability".

The timing is not a coincidence, since the CPMR will be able to further its cause -ato develop compensation rules in oil pollution cases and take into account the ecological damage caused by shipping accidents in the EU - using a September 2012 judgement by the French courts in the Erika case. Indeed, the Erika case marks a turning point, since for the first time environmental damage was considered as well as economic damage. The firm Total, awhich chartered Erika, has been ordered to pay 4 million to local authorities...

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