EU dilutes pollution proposals

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union is seeking a compromise to convince Greece, Cyprus and Malta to agree to tough new measures against polluting in EU waters, ministers said yesterday. Spurred into action by the Prestige disaster, which caused one of Europe’s worst oil slicks off the Spanish coast in 2002, the EU Commission had proposed the measures to prevent future environmental disasters. But the three shipping nations have rejected these proposals, arguing they went way beyond already agreed upon international rules on marine pollution. In a bid to get a deal, the Dutch EU presidency has now proposed that the bloc only impose fines on shipping firms and captains who act recklessly and cause pollution at sea, instead of both financial sanctions and jail terms as originally proposed. «It is not the best (solution), but it may be the only way we can get some rules,» Danish Justice Minister Lene Espersen told reporters after EU ministers met for talks in Brussels. Greek companies own 19 percent of the world’s shipping fleet.