Thursday

23rd Nov 2017

MEPs reject oil drilling ban but commission to push ahead

  • Green MEPs say Europe is not equipped to deal with an oil spill like the one seen in the Gulf of Mexico (Photo: Deepwater Horizon Response)

MEPs have rejected a call for a temporary ban on new deep-water oil drilling in Europe, but the European Commission looks set to come forward next week with a proposal for a moratorium.

Scottish MEPs hailed the decision as a victory on Thursday (7 October) after a full sitting of the chamber narrowly voted to reject a non-binding resolution calling for the ban by 323 votes to 285.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Parliament's environmental committee had earlier proposed the resolution, which called for a halt to all new oil drilling until uniform oil-rig safety standards and procedures were introduced.

The lawmakers did however vote to tighten security restrictions and increase compensation to be paid by companies in the wake of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year.

With the EU's biggest oil reserves found off the Scottish coast in the North Sea, politicians from the area have voiced concerns that a temporary cessation of new drilling could cost jobs.

"Our oil industry is renowned for its safety and security technology which we export worldwide," said Scottish Conservative MEP Struan Stevenson. "Far too many jobs have been lost because of the Gulf of Mexico spill. It would seem crazy that we would want to create even more through our response."

Green MEPs were disappointed by the decision. "The possibility of a serious accident from off-shore exploration in Europe is all too real and Europe is simply not equipped to deal with the devastating consequences," said Belgian euro-deputy Bart Staes.

An explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on the 20 April caused the death of 11 workers and huge environmental damage to local ecosystems after roughly 200 million gallons of oil flowed into the Gulf. BP eventually managed to block the broken well.

Although non-binding in nature, Thursday's declaration sends an important signal to the European Commission ahead of its expected publication on 13 October of a regulatory clampdown on oil drilling.

"The EU has a vital interest in preventing a similar disaster," said a draft of the proposal seen by Reuters on Thursday.

"The commission re-iterates its call upon the member states to suspend the licensing of complex oil or gas exploration operations until technical investigations to the causes of the Deepwater Horizon accident are completed and the European offshore safety regime has been reviewed," it adds.

The proposal needs the support of EU member states and the European Parliament if it is to become law. It is expected to focus on a stricter licensing system for oil companies, together with greater corporate liability in the event of an accident.

Oettinger backtracks on oil drilling ban

The European Commission appears to have backtracked on earlier plans for a compulsory moratorium on deepwater oil drilling inside the EU, with new proposals set to call for a voluntary ban at member state discretion.

Meat 'taboo' debated at Bonn climate summit

Animal agriculture is responsible for a significant share of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, but until recently it 'was an issue that was really brushed under the carpet'.

News in Brief

  1. December euro summit still on, Tusk confirms
  2. EU calls for end to Kenya election crisis
  3. Report: Israeli PM invited to meet EU ministers
  4. French banks close Le Pen accounts
  5. Commission relaxes rules on labelling free range eggs
  6. Commission issues €34m fine over car equipment cartel
  7. Estonian presidency 'delighted' with emissions trading vote
  8. Mladic found guilty of genocide and war crimes

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  2. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  3. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  4. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left
  6. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  7. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  8. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!
  9. Dialogue PlatformErdogan's Most Vulnerable Victims: Women and Children
  10. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children
  11. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  12. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure

Latest News

  1. Mali blames West for chaos in Libya
  2. Orban stokes up his voters with anti-Soros 'consultation'
  3. Commission warns Italy over high debt level
  4. Mladic found guilty for Bosnia genocide and war crimes
  5. Uber may face fines in EU for keeping data breach secret
  6. EU counter-propaganda 'harms' relations, Russia says
  7. The EU's half-hearted Ostpolitik
  8. Glyphosate: 1.3 million EU citizens call for ban