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									                                                           6695/02 (Presse 56)




                              2415th Council meeting

                     - EMPLOYMENT AND SOCIAL POLICY -

                               Brussels, 7 March 2002




                            President :        Mr Juan Carlos APARICIO PEREZ

                                               Minister for Labour and Social Affairs of the
                                               Kingdom of Spain




                              Internet: http://ue.eu.int/Newsroom
                             E-mail: press.office@consilium.eu.int

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                                                                                           EN
                                                                                                                                         7.III.2002

                                                              CONTENTS 1

PARTICIPANTS ................................................................................................................................ 3


ITEMS DEBATED

PREPARATION FOR THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL IN BARCELONA – Presidency
conclusions ........................................................................................................................................... 5
WORK PROGRAMME FOR 2002 OF THE SOCIAL PROTECTION COMMITTEE .................. 11
WORK PROGRAMME OF THE EMPLOYMENT COMMITTEE 2002 ....................................... 11
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN – Presidency Conclusions .......................................................... 12
EUROPEAN COOPERATIVE SOCIETY ........................................................................................ 14
PROTECTION OF WORKERS FROM THE RISKS RELATED TO EXPOSURE TO
ASBESTOS ........................................................................................................................................ 14
COMMUNITY STRATEGY ON HEALTH AND SAFETY AT WORK........................................ 15
SECOND WORLD ASSEMBLY ON AGEING............................................................................... 15
REPORT ON THE PRESIDENCY'S ACTIVITIES ......................................................................... 16
OTHER BUSINESS .......................................................................................................................... 16

ITEM APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE

MARITIME TRANSPORT
–       European Maritime Safety Agency ............................................................................................. I




_________________
For further information call 02-285.62.19, 02-285.67.00 or 02-285.68.08




1
        Where declarations, conclusions or resolutions have been formally adopted by the Council, this is indicated in
        the heading for the item concerned and the text is placed between quotation marks.



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                                                                                                 7.III.2002

PARTICIPANTS
The Governments of the Member States and the European Commission were represented as
follows:

Belgium :
Ms Laurette ONKELINX                          Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Employment
Mr Franck VANDENBROUCKE                       Minister for Social Affairs and Pensions

Denmark :
Mr Claus Hjort FREDERIKSEN                    Minister for Employment
Ms Henriette KJAER                            Minister for Social Affairs and Equal Opportunity
Germany :
Mr Gerd ANDRES                                Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for
                                              Labour and Social Affairs
Greece :
Mr Eleftherios TZIOLAS                        State Secretary for Labour and Social Security
Spain :
Mr Juan Carlos APARICIO PÉREZ                 Minister for Labour and Social Affairs
Mr Juan CHOZAS                                Secretary-General for Employment
France :
Ms Élisabeth GUIGOU                           Minister for Employment and Solidarity
Ireland :
Mr James BRENNAN                              Deputy Permanent Representative

Italy :
Mr Pasquale VIESPOLI                          State Secretary for Labour and Social Policy
Luxembourg :
Mr François BILTGEN                           Minister for Labour and Employment
Ms Marie-Josée JACOBS                         Minister for the Family, Social Solidarity and Youth,
                                              Minister for the Advancement of Women
Netherlands :
Mr Willem VERMEEND                            Minister for Social Affairs and Employment
Austria :
Ms Mares ROSSMANN                             State Secretary, Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Labour

Portugal :
Mr António DORNELAS                           State Secretary for Labour and Training
Ms Maria do Céu CUNHA REGO                    State Secretary for Equality
Finland :
Ms Maija PERHO                                Minister for Social Affairs and Health




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Sweden :
Ms Mona SAHLIN                Minister at the Ministry of Industry, Employment and
                              Communications, with responsibility for Working Life,
                              Integration and Policy on Metropolitan Areas

Ms Margareta WINBERG          Minister for Agriculture and Minister for Equal Opportunities

United Kingdom :
Mr Malcolm WICKS              Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for
                              Work and Pensions
Mr Alan JOHNSON               Minister of State for Employment Relations and the
                              Regions

                          *   *   *
Commission :
Ms Anna DIAMANTOPOULOU        Member

                          *   *   *


Other participants :
Mr Clive TUCKER               Chairman of the Employment Committee
Mr Raoul BRIET                Chairman of the Social Protection Committee




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                                                                                          7.III.2002



PREPARATION FOR THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL IN BARCELONA – Presidency
conclusions


The Council held a wide-ranging debate in preparation for its contribution to the European Council
to be held in Barcelona on 15 and 16 March, working on the basis of a number of documents,
including:


▪     the Commission's summary report: The Lisbon Strategy – Making Change Happen (5654/02),
      together with the opinions of the Employment Committee (6280/02) and the Social Protection
      Committee (6644/02) respectively;
▪     the scoreboard on the follow-up to the Social Agenda;
▪     the Commission Action Plan on Mobility and Skills which follows on from the High-level
      Task Force report and the Commission communication: Making a European Area of Lifelong
      Learning a Reality, together with a report from the Employment Committee;
▪     the draft joint report from the Council and the Commission: Increasing labour-force
      participation and promoting active ageing (6519/02);
▪     a Presidency discussion paper (6560/02).


Following the discussion, the Presidency established the following conclusions, which it will be
forwarding to the European Council in Barcelona:


"1.   The Barcelona European Council will be the second spring summit developing the mandates
      established at the European Councils of Lisbon, Feira, Nice, Stockholm, Göteborg and
      Laeken to fulfil the European Union's strategic goal for the coming years: "to become the
      most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of
      sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion".

2.    The Barcelona European Council will also be charged with assessing progress in the
      application of the European Social Agenda approved at Nice.




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3.   The Employment and Social Policy Council on 7 March 2002 takes a very positive view of
     the achievements of the European Employment Strategy since it was launched in 1997, and
     the validity of that process has been confirmed both in times of economic expansion and in
     less favourable circumstances.

4.   The Employment and Social Policy Council likewise views very positively the progress made
     in developing the open method of coordination for the purpose of ensuring the long-term
     sustainability of pension systems, with a view to final confirmation of the method by the
     Barcelona European Council.

5.   The Presidency considers that the Council:

     ▪     takes a very positive view of the Commission's Summary Report and confirms that it is
           necessary to strengthen the equilibrium, coherence, coordination and synchronisation
           between the social and economic dimensions in the Lisbon Strategy framework,
           through the instruments used in each of those dimensions, along the lines put forward
           by the Employment and Social Protection Committees in their Opinions.

           This coordination should apply particularly in the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines
           process and the European Employment Strategy process, with a view to improving
           coherence between the two processes. To this end, it will be necessary to synchronise
           timetables, whilst maintaining the independence of each process, and for the spring
           European Council to direct each of these in a coherent and balanced manner. The
           European Council will therefore establish the political priorities that should be followed
           by the various Council configurations.

           The Council is agreed that in the case of the European Employment Strategy it is not
           necessary to establish objectives other than those set out in a general way at Lisbon and
           that therefore the new European Employment Strategy will have to be implemented
           until 2010, with an intermediate assessment in 2006. The process needs simplification,
           but not watering down, and in particular it needs fewer employment guidelines. Taking
           account of the results of the current assessment, the new Strategy will incorporate all the
           positive aspects of the Luxembourg process which have made it possible for all Member
           States to progress in establishing joint policies and objectives, while taking account of
           their specific characteristics.

     ▪     The Council holds that full employment is the essential goal of economic and social
           policies, which requires the creation of more and better jobs. It is therefore necessary to
           continue paying particular attention to the reforms of employment and labour market
           policies. In this context, it is essential to eliminate barriers to entry into the labour
           market and to promote active employment policies, maintaining a preventive approach
           and individualised attention to the unemployed to prevent them from falling into
           long-term unemployment and to improve their employability.




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           It emphasises that to achieve the objectives set in Lisbon, the European Employment
           Strategy will have to pay special attention to the challenges facing the EU in the long
           term, especially the challenges of ageing. The European Employment Strategy should
           enable everybody to have an opportunity to take part in working life. At the same time,
           it will have to contribute to creating a dynamic and effective labour market in which
           motivated and trained workers can have high-quality and high-productivity jobs. Thus,
           the Strategy will have to give adequate consideration to policies which improve both the
           supply of and the demand for work.

           It is therefore necessary to make progress with the modernisation and reform of the
           labour market, to strengthen our social protection systems so that they both afford
           protection to those in need and provide incentives to participate in working life, to
           support lifelong learning in order to secure a knowledge-based society and to promote
           policies which stimulate, rather than impede, job creation by entrepreneurs.

     ▪     The Council stresses the importance of job quality. Quality, which must not create new
           red tape in the labour market, will make possible higher employment levels. The
           objective of creating better jobs thus complements and reinforces that of creating more
           jobs.

     ▪     It emphasises the need to strengthen the role of the social partners in modernising the
           organisation of work, improving its quality, vocational training and access to and
           durability of employment. The social partners share responsibility for finding a balance
           between flexibility and security in employment and making it possible for enterprises to
           be adaptable. They must above all play the principal role in anticipating and managing
           change and achieving the balance which will safeguard the way enterprises operate as
           well as the interests of workers. The setting up of the Social Summit constitutes an
           essential step forward in achieving this objective. The contributions made by the social
           partners in this forum will undoubtedly prove a highly valuable instrument for further
           exploring appropriate ways of strengthening their participation in the EES.

     ▪     The Council reaffirms the need to strengthen social integration and the fight against
           exclusion, in line with the conclusions of the Nice European Council, since,
           notwithstanding the multidisciplinary nature of the phenomenon, the best instrument for
           inclusion is employment; it is thus essential that employment services and social
           services work together in such a way that both mechanisms improve the employability
           of the socially excluded. Employment is always preferable to unemployment, but it
           must meet certain minimum conditions and offer opportunities for progress in work.




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           The Council emphasises the importance of the Community Strategy for combating
           exclusion and of the adoption by the Member States of National Plans. Similarly, it
           urges the Employment and Social Protection Committees to continue working towards
           the adoption of specific objectives to reduce social exclusion, taking account of the
           indicators adopted at Laeken and the multi-faceted nature of the phenomenon of
           exclusion.

     ▪     It likewise confirms the importance of implementing the Social Protection strategy as
           regards the quality and viability of pensions, which supports the reform of pension
           systems, in the framework of the open method of coordination, with the aim of
           safeguarding the capacity of systems to fulfil their social objectives, ensuring financial
           sustainability, and adapting their capacity to meet the new needs of society. To fulfil
           these objectives, it considers the common objectives and the working method
           developed with a view to their confirmation by the European Council in Barcelona to
           be very valuable and useful.

     ▪     draws attention to the need to continue to work for equality between men and women
           by developing measures to make it easier for women to enter and remain in the labour
           market, and by avoiding discrimination. In this context, it is important to increase the
           number of measures directed at reconciling family life and working life, particularly
           through the creation of services caring for children and other dependents. It also
           supports the need to establish an integrated and multi-disciplinary approach in order to
           eradicate all forms of violence against women with the cooperation of all the policy
           sectors involved.

6.   The Presidency notes that the Council welcomes the progress achieved in developing the
     Social Policy Agenda, and stresses the importance of the initiatives set up in the past
     twelve months.

7.   The Presidency notes that the Council welcomes the content of the Action Plan on Mobility
     and Skills and is agreed on the importance of the three challenges of the Plan: (a) to improve
     job mobility; (b) to promote geographical mobility; and (c) to establish adequate channels of
     information on work and training opportunities in the EU. To this end, it stresses the need to
     develop and recognise qualifications and skills, including those acquired informally, invest in
     human resources, pursue efforts to ensure lifelong learning and modernise Public
     Employment Services, particularly the EURES network.

8.   The Presidency shares the Council's interest in the importance of lifelong learning in helping
     people enter and remain in the labour market and progress in their working lives, in particular
     the role which training systems provided in a genuine working environment can play to that
     end.




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9.    The Presidency observes that the Council stresses the need to increase participation in the
      labour market for all and to encourage older workers to stay active voluntarily in
      response to the challenge of ageing. The social partners must play an essential role in
      determining the necessary policies. At the same time, it stresses that early retirement must
      cease to be the immediate response to the problems of restructuring enterprises.
      Opportunities must be given to older workers to keep their jobs, since flexible work
      organisation formulas (part time and teleworking among others) and the guarantee of lifelong
      learning are tools that can help make those opportunities a reality.

      It also notes that the Council is adopting the joint report by the Commission and the Council
      on "increasing labour-force participation and promoting active ageing".

10.   As an essential complement to the above-mentioned employment measures, the Presidency
      stresses the importance of reforms to Member States' pension systems with a view to creating
      a gradual and flexible approach to retirement, encouraging a voluntary raising of the true
      retirement age in keeping with the reality of longer life expectancy, facilitating a gradual
      transition from full activity to retirement and promoting the active participation of older
      people in public, social and cultural life so as to achieve the objective of active ageing.

11.   The Presidency emphasises the importance of the agreement achieved in the conciliation
      process in relation to the Decision on incentive measures in the field of employment for the
      future development of the European Employment Strategy in the Lisbon framework, and
      stresses the will of the institutions to make information on the Strategy's results more
      transparent and accessible to the citizens of Europe and to those groups most concerned, with
      particular attention to its regional and local dimensions.

12.   The Presidency notes that the Council endorses the joint Report by the Social Protection
      Committee and the Economic Policy Committee on the principles on health care and care for
      the elderly, so that everyone can be guaranteed access to quality health care, the transparency
      and quality of health care systems is improved, and the reform process that has begun
      continues, with the aim of making the rate of cost increases compatible with improvement in
      the quality of public finance, thus making it possible to ensure that health care is adequately
      funded, with the necessary cooperation and participation of all actors involved.

      To this end, the Council is agreed on the need to initiate and to develop cooperation between
      the Member States over 2002 and 2003, on areas in which to exchange best practice and
      information, once they are identified, and to discuss common challenges at European level,
      which could lead to the creation of added value in achieving the objectives of the Lisbon
      Strategy."




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The Council also adopted an initial report on health care and care for the elderly (6361/02), drawn
up jointly by the Social Protection and Economic Policy Committees. The report was also approved
by the ECOFIN Council at its meeting on 5 March and will now be submitted to the European
Council in Barcelona.


The report has been drawn up on the basis of a Commission Communication; it is in response to
instructions of the Göteborg European Council in June 2001, which called on the Social Protection
and Economic Policy Committees to draw up a joint report on the problems raised by population
ageing, in particular in the light of the repercussions on social security systems. The interim report
sets out the broad thrust of the political debate and proposes a number of activities for 2002 and
2003.




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                                                                                            7.III.2002



WORK PROGRAMME FOR 2002 OF THE SOCIAL PROTECTION COMMITTEE


The Council took note of the 2002 Work Programme of the Social Protection Committee (6238/02).
The Committee's rules of procedure stipulate that the programme should be submitted annually to
the Council for information.


The programme's priorities are set by reference to the mandates given to the Committee by the
Lisbon European Council. The two issues on which the Committee has worked throughout 2001 –
the fight against social exclusion and safe and sustainable pensions – will continue to be central to
the 2002 programme. However, the 2002 programme will also devote attention to other issues such
as, for example, health and long-term care, and extending the dialogue on social protection to the
candidate countries.


WORK PROGRAMME OF THE EMPLOYMENT COMMITTEE 2002


The Council noted the Work Programme of the Employment Committee for the year 2002
(6271/02). The Committee's rules of procedure lay down that its annual work programme is to be
submitted to the Council for information at the beginning of the year.


In 2002 the Committee should finalise the impact evaluation of the European Employment Strategy
established by the Luxembourg European Council in 1997 and begin discussing the future direction
of the Strategy. The outcome of those proceedings will be used as a basis for preparation of the
employment package (employment guidelines, joint employment report and recommendations on
the implementation of Member States' employment policies).


The Committee, working together with the Social Protection Committee, will assist the
Employment and Social Policy Council in preparing a contribution to the preparation for the Broad
Economic Policy Guidelines (BEPGs) for 2003.




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                                                                                            7.III.2002



VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN – Presidency Conclusions


On the eve of International Women's Day on 8 March, the Council held a public debate, broadcast
live to the press and interested members of the public, on the issue of violence against women,
based on a discussion paper prepared by the Presidency (6279/1/02). The debate was conducted to
raise public awareness of the phenomenon.


At the close of debate the Presidency drew the conclusions set out below. In that context, the
Council took special note of the undertaking given by the subsequent Presidency (Denmark) to
continuing discussion of the matter, particularly with a view to developing indicators.


Presidency conclusions:

"The public debate held during the meeting of the Employment and Social Policy Council
demonstrated once again that violence against women is a widespread and persistent problem,
which occurs at every level of society, despite the national and international laws in favour of
equality.

Violence against women is a deep-rooted structural problem, the eradication of which requires an
unstinting effort by governments and society as a whole.

The debate provided opportunities to analyse this problem in depth and to draw up proposals for
progressing in the eradication of violence in its various aspects and involved a reaffirmation of the
principles of freedom, democracy, respect for human rights, for the fundamental freedoms and the
rule of law, on which the Union is based.

1.    By way of general considerations, the Presidency noted that the Member States underlined the
      importance of establishing an integrated, multidisciplinary and multi-level approach to the
      eradication of violence against women, by applying gender mainstreaming in the various
      political sectors involved: not only in Employment and Social Affairs, but also in Justice and
      Home Affairs, Health, Education and Youth.

2.    The exchange of best practices within the European Union has proved to be an efficient
      instrument in developing policies of common interest for the Member States and can also be
      of use in finding solutions in the area of gender-related violence.




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     In that connection, the Member States emphasised that the Guide of Best Practice, which the
     Spanish Presidency is preparing, can help Member States to take more effective action against
     gender-related violence and should be presented at the abovementioned formations of the
     Council of Ministers of the European Union.

3.   With the fundamental aim of preventing gender-related violence and involving the whole of
     society in the eradication of the problem, it was considered necessary to continue developing
     awareness campaigns so that society took note of its seriousness.

     The Presidency therefore encourages the Member States to coordinate at national and local
     level the awareness campaigns on violence against women, and to identify each year priority
     common themes throughout the European Union, so that this year, 2002, domestic violence is
     tackled, in 2003 trafficking in women and girls, and in 2004 violence at the workplace. The
     High-level Group on Gender Mainstreaming is responsible for identifying priority areas for
     the following years.

4.   With the aim of taking cognizance of the incidence of violence in the Member States and
     having standardised information, the Presidency and the Member States noted the need to
     improve the statistics and establish some common definitions.

     It is also deemed necessary to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of all the measures
     taken to combat violence against women. To that end, it is necessary to draw up common
     terminology on violence throughout the European Union, and to establish some indicators
     which would allow us to evaluate the progress made in complying with the Platform for
     Action adopted in Beijing in 1995.

     These indicators should be incorporated, if possible, into the present Eurostat and Europol
     data collection mechanisms.

     In that regard, the Presidency and the Council note with satisfaction the initiative by Denmark
     to use the work carried out by the Spanish Presidency as a basis for developing and
     establishing some common indicators on gender-related violence during its own Presidency."




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EUROPEAN COOPERATIVE SOCIETY


The Council noted the Presidency's progress report on the draft Directive supplementing the Statute
for a European Cooperative Society with regard to the involvement of employees in the
management of a cooperative. It instructed the Permanent Representatives Committee to complete
its work as soon as possible.


Agreement has been reached on most of the proposals. The two major issues still outstanding are
firstly, the possible introduction of a threshold in terms of number of employees for the Directive to
apply and secondly, maintaining the right, where it already exists, for employee representatives to
be members of and vote in the cooperative's general assembly.




PROTECTION OF WORKERS FROM THE RISKS RELATED TO EXPOSURE TO
ASBESTOS


The Council noted the progress made on the proposal for a Directive on the protection of workers
from the risks related to exposure to asbestos. It established guidelines for developing outstanding
issues in more depth, and instructed the Permanent Representatives Committee to continue working
in that direction pending the European Parliament's Opinion.


At the heart of the proposal, which aims to bring Directive 83/477/EEC up to date to ensure better
worker protection, is the introduction of a single limit value for exposure, as opposed to two under
the original Directive. Matters covered by other amendments include scope (with the removal of
the derogations applicable to the sea and air transport sectors), the simplification of provisions in
the case of limited exposure, the method for measuring the asbestos level in air, the detection of
asbestos and training for workers.




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                                                                                         7.III.2002



COMMUNITY STRATEGY ON HEALTH AND SAFETY AT WORK


The Council took note of the information supplied by Commissioner DIAMANTOPOULOU on the
key components of a "Community strategy on health and safety at work", as well as her undertaking
to submit the strategy to the Council during the Spanish Presidency.




SECOND WORLD ASSEMBLY ON AGEING


The Council took note of the information from the Presidency on progress in preparations for the
"Second World Assembly on Ageing" to be held in Madrid from 8 to 12 April 2002 with the aim of
adopting a new world strategy to meet the challenge posed by the ageing of the world population
and, if possible, agreeing on a policy statement.


The Council was also given notice by Commissioner DIAMANTOPOULOU of a communication
on demographic challenges which she would be presenting in the near future, and by the
German delegation of the ministerial conference on ageing, convened under the aegis of the
Economic Commission for Europe, to be held in September in Berlin.




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                                                                                           7.III.2002



REPORT ON THE PRESIDENCY'S ACTIVITIES


The Council took note of the reports on the Presidency's activities concerning:


●    the informal meeting of Employment Ministers (Burgos, 18 and 19 January 2002);
●    the seminar on active ageing and on gradual and flexible pension systems (Lanzarote, 4 and
     5 February 2002);
●    the large-scale conference on employment policy in Europe: from Luxembourg to Barcelona
     (Madrid, 11 and 12 February 2002);
●    the ministerial conference on violence against women (Santiago de Compostela, 18 and
     19 February 2002).




OTHER BUSINESS


The Council took note of the oral presentation by the Commission


–    of the report on the social situation in Europe; this joint report by the Commission and
     Eurostat based on an analysis of social indicators will act as a tool for comparative analysis of
     demographic development in the Member States;


–    report by the High-level Working Party on the future of industrial relations.




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                                                                                         7.III.2002



ITEM APPROVED WITHOUT DEBATE
The documents whose references are given are available on the Council's Internet site
http://ue.eu.int. Acts adopted with statements for the Council minutes which may be released to the
public are indicated by an asterisk; these statements may be obtained by following the procedure
indicated above or from the Press Office.




MARITIME TRANSPORT

European Maritime Safety Agency

The Council adopted a Common Position on the draft Regulation establishing a European Maritime
Safety Agency in accordance with the political agreement reached at its meeting on
7 December 2001. The text will be forwarded to the European Parliament for a second reading
under the codecision procedure (15121/01).

The new Agency will provide Member States and the Commission with the necessary technical and
scientific support properly to apply the Community legislation in the field of maritime safety,
thereby contributing to ensuring a high and uniform level of maritime safety and pollution
prevention in the Community. The Regulation is part of the second set of measures proposed by the
Commission in the aftermath of the Erika incident.




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