Nautica Digitale
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Marine engines
do not pollute

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Article by
Alfredo Gennaro


Each day, Cato entered the Roman Senate with a message. 'Delenda Carthago', he exhorted them. Carthage has to be destroyed. He scattered around him the splendid figs sent to Rome from Tunisia, to illustrate the threatening opulence Carthage represented. The Punic Wars proved Cato right, because the Roman Empire only just managed to avoid being conquered by Hannibal.

If history can teach us a lesson about life, we have learned our lesson. We will continue to state, at every opportunity, for as long as we are able, that

The proposed European Directive on exhaust and noise emissions of marine engines installed on recreational craft should be withdrawn.

Where Cato scattered figs, we provide facts: facts that prove how dangerous the Directive on emissions would be for Europe, for the market, for firms, for boatbuilders, for the economy and for employment, and how carelessly and superficially the proposal has so far been assessed, by the official and professional bodies, and by the media which represent public opinion (which we believe to be acting in good faith, until we have proof to the contrary).

We now know who is behind the Directive. ICOMIA!

ICOMIA is the International Council of Marine Industry Associations, a federation which includes the European Associations. In theory it should be the first organisation to oppose useless and unproductive legislation, legislation which will put firms out of business (remember the OMC), legislation which forces local economies into making even greater investments, which drowns boatbuilders in expensive and complicated red tape, legislation which hobbles recreational craft, restricts the liberty and enjoyment of users, and is the death of the product.

But instead, ICOMIA, in the person of its Secretary General Tim Donkin, candidly states in his editorial for the ICOMIA 2000 Yearbook that not only was ICOMIA the original promoter of such legislation in 1992, but that for ten years it has put such "heavy trans-Atlantic pressure on the European Commission" that it has succeeded in getting legislation framed for which it was the only supporter, for which it supplied the figures, and for which ICOMIA and its committee IMEC served as technical gurus.

On close examination, the proposal is a terrifying 55-page document which everyone should try and read. (The English version may be found on the Internet ). It clearly states that, once applied, the directive will produce neither new employment (on the contrary), nor new business. The cost of engines will rise by about 30%, and to conform to the Directive, firms will be forced to make hundreds of millions worth of Euros in new investment and to spend hundreds of thousands of Euros on conformity assessment. Nonetheless, ICOMIA supports the Directive, and has contacted each EU member state to explain, in the words of Tim Donkin, that "the industry needs this directive".

It was ICOMIA which came up with the idea of the 'reference-boat', and which hoped that "when this information finally reaches the boatbuilders, their possible opposition to this Directive will be eased considerably". And it is ICOMIA once again which is spending its Associations' money (who else's?) on supporting the Directive. More money than it had planned. And it is ICOMIA, we learn once more from Tim Donkin, which is also lobbying the US government and the Environmental Protection Agency to support legislation from which the EPA has, with good reason, only exempted . recreational propulsion marine diesel engines (see Federal Register Bulletin December 11, 1998 [Volume 63, Number 238]), pending a separate rulemaking which has yet to be officially announced.

But this is not all!

According to a letter to IMEC members dated 5 March, Tim Donkin met Costas Andropoulos and Maria Spiliopoulou (the main authors of the Directive), They told him that ICOMIA's 'briefings' to the EU social and environmental committees had had a positive effect, but had asked him whether ICOMIA and its IMEC could 'balance' our action against Mr Colasanti (see our article in the April issue). ICOMIA suggested that a letter should be written (and which was in fact subsequently sent to Mr Colasanti the same day), in which Tim Donkin asked him for a meeting at which he could set forward the reasons why the proposal should not be blocked.

This would all be fine, if it were not for the fact that

  1. Costas Andropoulos and Maria Spiliopoulou, authors of the Directive, are employees of DG Enterprise under Mr Colasanti. He must therefore have, if not authorised, at least known about their contacts with Tim Donkin, and therefore with ICOMIA, especially inasmuch as they concerned him.

  2. If the proposal is the work of DG Enterprise, should it not be Mr Colasanti who explains it to Tim Donkin, rather than the other way around?

  3. The peremptory tone of the letter to Mr Colasanti suggests unacceptable influence. The letter contains statements which do not correspond with the truth. It refers to a general 'boating fraternity', which the facts have clearly demonstrated not to exist. But what does exist is a lobby whose intentions and interests we certainly know are not European.

- If ICOMIA must spend money and resources over a period of ten years to convince boatbuilders, industry, the EU member states and even DG Enterprise;

- If ICOMIA uses all its power to lobby even the US government;

- If ICOMIA has chosen and guided the social partners, and has planted its people on every European Committee;

- If ICOMIA has supplied the figures, information, the reasons and the technical limits for the Directive;

- If ICOMIA has insisted on the insertion in the Directive of a provision explicitly designed to allow changes to technical limits without following normal procedures (new article 6a), which effectively means controlling the European marine engine market for recreational boats and the European boatbuilders;

- If ICOMIA boasts, in the writings of its Secretary General, of a power which it uses as a threat with neither hesitation nor shame;

- If ICOMIA boasts of representing European interests, which the proposal effectively ends up trampling underfoot;

- If ICOMIA exerts all possible pressure to introduce a Directive which in fact throws up rather than eliminates significant technical barriers;

- If ICOMIA, instead of supporting all proposals to modify and lessen the impact of the Directive (including those put forward by its members, UCINA included) arrogantly ignores them;

- If ICOMIA thinks what we have done is annoying, and is concerned about 'balancing' (and if this word, in inverted commas, were used by the Mafia we would be seriously concerned);

- THEN it is clear that ICOMIA is alone in wanting this Directive implemented, and that the motives it officially claims to have, and has forced through in the proposal, are in truth an inconsistent cover, easily exposed for what it is.

But what is not yet clear, even though they may be guessed at, are the interests which ICOMIA is pursuing with such diligence and influence. Interests which are certainly not European.

There is only one way to find out. Cato only needed two words, but we need three at least:

Withdraw the proposal

Europe should not do anything before anyone else, and it must do nothing until it sees that what has been done elsewhere has not been regretted. If not, the USA will make European firms pay the price for their errors that, once made, can never be corrected.

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