As the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (the "Hong Kong Convention") is yet to enter into force, the European Union ("EU") has surpassed the Hong Kong Convention in implementing controls and criteria applicable to ships and ship recycling facilities with the Regulation (EU) No 1257/2013 (the "Regulation"). The aim of the Regulation is to facilitate early ratification of the Hong Kong Convention both within the EU and in non-member states by applying proportionate controls to ships and ship recycling facilities on the basis of the Hong Kong Convention.

According to article 16 of the Regulation, ship recycling facilities must be approved by the competent authorities for member states and the European Commission for non-member states in order to be included in the European List and for that matter to be able to recycle ships flying the flag of an EU member state. The European List has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 20 December 2016. The list currently contains facilities located in member states only, with 18 facilities in ten different states. Spain, Lithuania and the UK lead the list in the number of facilities entered with three facilities each. However, in compliance with the principle of equality in EU law, the Commission is ready to accept entries to the list from recycling facilities located in non-member states as well as member states.

Turkey became one of the first countries to sign the Hong Kong Convention on 26 August 2010. Considering that Turkish ship recycling facilities are in compliance with the essential requirements of the Hong Kong Convention, it would not be surprising if Turkish facilities became the first non-member state facilities to be added to the European List.

A ship recycling company owning a ship recycling facility located in a non-member state and intending to recycle ships flying the flag of an EU member state should submit an application to the Commission for inclusion of that ship recycling facility in the European List. The application must be accompanied by evidence that the ship recycling facility concerned complies with the requirements set out in the Regulation. Compliance by ship recycling facilities located in non-member states are to be certified following a site inspection by an independent verifier with appropriate qualifications and this certificate must be included in the application to the Commission.

The Regulation will enter into force 6 months after the date that the combined maximum annual ship recycling output of the ship recycling facilities included in the European List constitutes not less than 2.5 million light displacement tonnes (LDT) and in any case latest by 31 December 2018.

As one of the top five ship recycling countries in the world, Turkey is well placed to occupy a significant position within the European List with modern ship recycling facilities that meet the required standards. At ErsoyBilgehan, with our vast experience on the legal aspects of transboundary movement of wastes and import of ships for recycling, we advise and represent our clients before Turkish and foreign authorities with regard to making the required applications and obtaining permits.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.