ECONOMY

In Brief

EU assembly calls for earlier ban on single-hull tankers The European Parliament yesterday overwhelmingly endorsed (501 votes in favor, five against and 14 abstentions) a legislative resolution on speeding up the introduction of the ban on all single-hull oil tankers from EU waters. The resolution calls for the addition of smaller tankers (Category 3) to the accelerated phase-out of the so-called Category 2 tankers by 2010 instead of 2015, for the withdrawal of Category 1 vessels (such as the infamous Erika and Prestige) when they reach age 23 and no later than 2005, and for new rules for vessels leaving ports and terminals and anchoring in EU areas. Citing the need to protect the EU’s oil supplies, the resolution provides for a transitional period (until 2008) for tankers with a dead weight of less than 5,000 tons and for a two-year transitional period for single-hull tankers equipped with special ice protection gear. The assembly demanded the introduction of the new rules by September 1, 2003. Sources said they did not expect final decisions on the acceleration of the plan to be reached at today’s scheduled meeting of EU transport ministers in Brussels, but that it was likely during the term of the Italian presidency starting in July. Court tells bank it cannot levy extra charges on overdue borrower An Athens court has vindicated a borrower who filed against additional bank charges on overdue loan repayments. The court ruled that a bank that charged the borrower with an extra 13,800 euros in additional special taxes and judicial expenses on a debt of 21,130 euros – as calculated after the enactment of laws limiting the effects of compound interest – was illegal and contrary to the constitutional principles of economic freedom, equality, protection of the national economy and property and the Rome Convention of Human Rights. The court argued that the purpose of the law forbidding the levying of such bank charges was «the protection of the borrower, who is the weaker party in the transaction» and said that any charges may be sought after settlement of the debt. The court ruling is expected to lead to many suits by borrowers who have paid additional charges. PPC Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said yesterday the Public Power Corporation (PPC) has no reason to fear deregulation and that it stands to benefit from the competition of private investment in the power market. PPC Managing Director Stergios Nezis also told the annual general meeting that the corporation does not fear competition, noting a strong improvement in its financial indicators in recent years. He revealed that PPC will seek a revision of the long-term contract for the supply of cut-rate electricity to the country’s largest energy consumer, Aluminium of Greece, when it expires in 2006. PPC will pay out of a dividend of 0.5 euros per share within three months. OA The union of Olympic Airways cabin staff said it is categorically against the government’s plans for «re-founding» the carrier under a privatized scheme. About 450 attendants of a general meeting unanimously decided not to take part in the new scheme which they claim violates EU directives on the protection of workers’ rights.