In response to a parliamentary question submitted on 20/01/2015 by the independent MEP Professor Notis Marias and eleven Italians MEPs asking the Commission to investigate the circumstances of the fire tragedy of Norman Atlantic on December 29, 2014 as well as whether the vessel complied with the respective EU safety legislation [E-000687-15], Commissioner Violeta Bulc on 03/10/2015 replied:
“1. A safety investigation of the incident is ongoing. It is too early to conclude how the incident occurred or to what extent the minor deficiencies identified during the port state control inspection in Patras were relevant, as they were not considered to be serious enough to prevent the vessel departing the port. An interim investigation report should be published within 12 months from the incident. The periodic assessments the Commission carries out with the help of EMSA’s fact finding inspections have not revealed any systemic problems with the recognised organisation (RO) undertaking statutory and class tasks for this ship. Italy, as flag State, has to take the measures it deems appropriate to ensure that the ship in question complies with the applicable international rules and regulations. This also implies monitoring/reporting obligation of their authorised EU ROs, which is now subject to pre-infringement proceedings. Italy underwent an IMO audit in 2007, and its maritime authorities currently hold a valid quality management certificate.
2. EMSA contributes to reducing the risk of maritime accidents. The Agency carries out visits to Member States helping the Commission to assess the effective implementation of relevant Union law. There are no plans currently to give the agency more control powers with respect to inspection procedures.
3. The Commission and EMSA are at the disposal of the competent authorities for any assistance. Lessons from this accident need to be taken into account to improve passenger ship safety regulations both at EU and international level. The Commission is currently undertaking a Fitness Check of the EU legislation on passenger ship safety to assess if the current legislative framework is fit for purpose.”