IMO discussions on gas-powered ships and other “low-flashpoint fuels” could potentially affect existing EU legislation on alternative fuels infrastructure, according to the European Commission.
For this reason, discussions on the topic in the IMO’s maritime safety committee fall under the EU’s “exclusive competence”.
In practice, this would mean that individual EU Member States are not free to take individual positions within IMO; they must follow the agreed EU lines as coordinated by the Commission. Member States have on occasion refused to toe the line, though this could result in court action.
“Some” EU Member States disagreed with the Commission’s competence claims, according to notes accompanying the official EU IMO proposal dated May 29. As a compromise, the document has been forwarded to IMO in the name of both Member States and the Brussels executive.
After two decades of progressive power grabs, almost all IMO issues now fall under EU exclusive competence.