NEWS

PM backs tanker safety proposals

MADRID (AFP) – Greece assured Spain yesterday that Athens would back a EU maritime safety clampdown to prevent a repeat of the Prestige tanker disaster off Spain. Prime Minister Costas Simitis offered support for EU proposals to step up safety in European waters during a meeting yesterday with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar in Madrid, Spanish officials said. The two PMs said they were confident this week’s Copenhagen EU summit would adopt measures proposed by transport ministers in Brussels on Friday. The ministers agreed to ban single-hull tankers carrying heavy oil from EU ports – to be imposed as an administrative order taking immediate effect – and proposed bringing forward a ban on single-hull tankers carrying other types of oil, without setting a date. Current EU law foresees a ban on all single-hull tankers by 2015. Greece has the world’s largest merchant fleet. In Athens, Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Anomeritis said maritime safety would be one of the Greek presidency’s top priorities.