New EU Rules for Yachts Coming

The Commission has proposed a new law that would further limit polluting emissions, set new noise limits and revise current safety requirements for pleasure boats.

In particular, new limits would be set on the emission of nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and particulate matters, bringing current rules into line with other European marine safety and environmental legislation.

The new rules would apply to recreational craft - motor boats, sailing boats etc - and their engines and components, and would amend the current legislation in this area (Directive 94/25/EC).

What types of boat are covered by the new rules?

The proposal covers four boat categories:

1) Ocean boats, designed for extended voyages where conditions may exceed wind force 8 (Beaufort scale) and wave heights of 4m and above, and which are largely self-sufficient 

2) Offshore, designed for offshore voyages where conditions up to wind force 8 and significant waves may be experienced

3) Inshore, destined to travel in coastal waters, large bays, estuaries, lakes and rivers

4) Boats for sheltered waters, designed for voyages on sheltered coastal waters, small bays, small lakes, rivers and canals, with occasional waves of half a metre in height

All four categories must fulfil certain general conditions before they are placed on the market or put into service. They must not threaten the safety or health of persons, property or environment. They must also meet some more specific requirements, namely:

They should include an identification number as well as information on the manufacturer's code, his country, a unique serial number, the month and year of production and the model year

• They should also have a plate indicating the manufacturer's name, registered trade name or registered trade mark, the CE marking and the boat design category

• They should provide for the maximum number of people and load that the boat can carry, according to the suggestions of the manufacturer

• When constructing craft, manufacturers are required to reduce the risk of falling overboard during their voyage and ensure that the boats are easily visible from their main steering position. The craft must also be stable, not easily sinkable and able to float even if they are inverted.

Exhaust Emissions and Test Cycles

The revised rules provide for certain information that the propulsion engines of pleasure boats should include:

• The engine manufacturer's trademark
• The engine type
• A unique engine identification number
• The CE marking

Propulsion engines would be required to be manufactured in such a way so that they can emit 20% less hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides and 34% less particulate matters.

In addition, the proposal lays down the limit values of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and particulates for each type of engine (two-stroke spark ignition, four-stroke spark ignition, compression ignition, stern-drive and inboard engines, outboard engines and PWC engines) used in recreational crafts. Compared to the existing legal framework, the limit emissions of hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and particulates, as set in the new rules are stricter.

The proposal also provides the test cycles that must be used to assess whether the engines of the crafts comply with the emission limits, as set in the proposed Directive.

Noise emissions

Recreational craft with inboard or stern drive engines without integral exhausts, personal watercraft, outboard engines and stern drive engines with integral exhausts need to be constructed in a way that noise emissions do not exceed the current limit values of Level 67 of Maximum Sound Pressure.

Transitional period for engine manufacturers

In order for manufacturers to be able to adapt their engines to the new technologies and to be able to comply with the new emission limits, a transitional period of three years starting from the entry into force of the proposed measure would be provided.

CE Marking

The proposal would introduce new rules with regard to the use of the CE marking for pleasure boats, components and engines. It particularly extends the obligation to use the CE marking for all inboard engines and stern drive engines without integral exhaust. The revised rules provide that the CE marking must be visible, easily readable and permanent and that it must be placed on the products before they enter the market.

Post-Construction Assessment

The proposed Directive would also introduce a procedure to assess whether the recreational crafts placed on the market comply with the necessary safety and construction requirements set in its provisions. This procedure would take place in cases where neither the manufacturer nor his representative has made a declaration that their products satisfy these requirements before the crafts are placed on the market.

According to the related provision, it is the person putting the recreational crafts on the market who is responsible for the safety of products and that they comply with the particular safety conditions provided for in the revised rules. This person has to apply for a post-construction assessment of the product and must provide the competent authority with the necessary documents and technical file, as described in the proposal. Following the application, the notified authority will carry out the examination and may provide the applicant with a certificate declaring that all necessary safety and construction requirements of the product are indeed satisfied.

Next Steps

The proposal will be sent to the Council and the European Parliament according to the ordinary legislative procedure. Discussions are expected to take place at the beginning of 2012.