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Marine engines
do not pollute

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Article by
Alfredo Gennaro


DELENDA CARTHAGO
OR WITHDRAW THE PROPOSAL

Under the same title, our article in the May issue of Nautica cited facts to prove how pointless and dangerous it would be to pass a European Directive regulating gas and noise emissions of recreational marine engines. It is a Directive that a group of lobbies headed by ICOMIA (the International Council of Marine Industry Associations) is fervently supporting, for reasons which are not clear, and with interests which are less clear still.

Cato shouted two words as he entered the Roman Senate each day: delenda Carthago, Carthage must be destroyed. We will follow his example and shout the same message for as long as we are able, a message we hope will be the Waterloo for those seeking to do Europe harm and to introduce useless rules that nobody asked for. Costly and non productive as they are, such rules would ultimately hit small enterprise hardest, strangling it in red tape, in complicated requirements for conformity and in lost investment.

We have received much support for our previous article, and many have expressed agreement with our stated views. Published on the Internet and distributed at the SATEC in S. Margherita Ligure in Italian and in English, the article matched the positions of some other EC members and it might yet lead to the articulation of a European consensus of opinion, and to the unanimous support most certainly not received by the proposal.

In the previous article we set out in detail our suspicions. The decision of the Swedish President of the Committee not to vote on the proposal because of the total disagreement of the member states has served to confirm our suspicions and strengthen our determination. The Swedish President will pass everything to the next President, from Belgium, who will probably deal with the issue in September. We are pleased that member states have started to realise that the directive is pointless, but at the same time we are conscious this is a delicate moment. We must not let our guard down, nor allow our action to lessen or peter out: the supporters of the proposal feel we are now close to the truth, which apart from leading to the withdrawal of the proposal, will reveal the games they have been playing.

Incapable in fact of explaining the reasons for or the advantages of the proposed directive, Tim Donkin, acting on behalf of ICOMIA of which he is secretary, allows himself to be hysterically overcome, making insinuations about those who use sound argument to fight the proposal. We do not know how far ICOMIA's behaviour is representative of the European contingent (and of UCINA as far as Italy is concerned), whose stance should in fact carry considerable weight: anyhow ICOMIA has been forced to make public apologies, for those insinuations, to the English colleague who, like us, is guilty only of opposing the directive.

We consider this kind of reaction unjustifiable. It compares unfavourably with our sound and unchallenged arguments. And we still have not received answers to certain fundamental questions:

  • is there anything wrong with the European leisure boating industry as it is now?

  • now that Directive 94/25, which was complicated enough in itself, has been more-or-less assimilated, where is the need for adding complications that nobody wants?

  • against what dangers will the directive defend us?

  • what are the advantages of new tests, requirements for conformity, investment and expenses?

  • will low level bureaucrats, as they invent ever more absurd procedures or impose unaffordable investments, ever understand that the leisure boating industry depends upon small enterprise, where, if need be, the owner is proud also to be the accountant, the driver, the receptionist? Is it thinkable that such enterprises could survive a decade in the red?

We continue to ask ourselves these questions, but this time we also had the opportunity of putting them to Dr. Fabio Colasanti, Director of the EÙs DG Enterprise.

After the article we published in May, we were afraid Mr Colasanti would not have wanted to talk to us and listen to our point of view, but we are extremely happy to report we were wrong.

Mr Colasanti seemed unconcerned about the letter Tim Donkin had sent him in ICOMIA's name, and discounted the possibility of inside plots being able to influence his decisions. He listened to us, carefully and for a long time.

We did not have enough time to fill him in on all that has happened over the last few years, when he did not hold the position he now does. But the time he took to listen to us with interest and attention was enough for us to prove, with totally verifiable facts, the reasons for our opposition and determination in calling for the proposal to be withdrawn.

We could, and maybe should, have told him about obscure intrigues and undeclared interests, about cover-ups designed to be effective and unquestionable, about the lobby's arrogance.

We finally decided to tell him about the Europe in which we believe, where, with the common agreement of truly representative parties, experts prepare Directives honestly and transparently. Directives which are respectful of the environment: which regulate in order to avoid problems, which remove technical barriers, improve exchange, free markets and support enterprises - particularly small and medium enterprises, the warp and weft of the European economy. These Directives can not, nor must not, constrain the final user, whose fundamental individual freedom, particularly in the use of the sea, must be preserved.

And for all of these reasons we insist, as did Cato : the proposal must be withdrawn

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