Directive 2014/90/EU on Marine Equipment


The Directive 2014/90/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on marine equipment (MED) has been transposed into Maltese legislation, precisely in the Merchant Shipping (Marine Equipment) Regulations. Council Directive 96/98/EC, also on marine equipment, has been repealed once the MED Directive was adopted. The Directive 96/98/EC has shown that it is necessary to take additional measures in order to enhance the implementation and enforcement mechanisms of the directive and simplify the regulatory environment. Thus, the new MED Directive introduces a simpler system for the transposition of EU legislation as well as improving market surveillance.

The objective of the new MED Directive is to enhance safety at sea as well as preventing marine pollution through the application of international instruments with respect to marine equipment that would be placed on board EU flagged ships. The said Directive shall also ensure the free movement of such equipment within the European Union. Moreover, marine equipment that is installed on new or existing ships shall bear the MED mark of conformity, also known as the wheel mark.

Therefore, the said Directive shall apply to equipment placed or to be placed on board an EU flagged ship and for which the approval of the flag State administration is required regardless if the ship is situated in the European Union when the equipment is fitted on the ship. When the marine equipment is placed on board a ship that is flagged in an EU Member State, a copy of the EU declaration of conformity that covers the equipment concerned has to be provided, as well as kept on board the respective ship at least until the marine equipment is removed or else replaced. The EU declaration of conformity can also be kept on board in electronic format.

The MED Directive should be read in conjunction with another international instrument, that is, the Commission Implementing Regulation that came into effect on 16th March 2017. The Annex of the said Regulation indicates the design, construction and performance requirements and testing standards as well as indications on how these standards are to apply to each item of marine equipment.

Furthermore, within the Annex one shall find marked the dates from which these requirements and testing standards are to apply including the dates when the marine equipment is placed on the market and on board bearing in mind the time frames for ship building.
In circumstances, when it is not practicable to replace marine equipment on board a ship that is found in a port outside the European Union with other equipment that bears a wheel mark, then other marine equipment can be placed on board. Nevertheless, such marine equipment needs to be accompanied by documentation that certifies its compliance with international requirements and that the Merchant Shipping Directorate is informed immediately on the nature and characteristics of the marine equipment.

The MED Directive reinforces the requirement for an authorised representative. Indeed, as of September 2016, all manufacturers located outside of the EU were required to appoint an authorised representative to market the approved equipment. The authorised representative shall be a natural person or legal entity within the EU territory who shall ensure the cooperation with the competent national authorities that are based in the EU.

Furthermore, it is to be noted that the equipment that is covered by the Council Decision 2004/425/EC with respect to an agreement between the European Community and the United States of America on mutual recognition of certificates of conformity for marine equipment does not require prior authorisation from the Merchant Shipping Directorate.

Recognised organisations have a duty to inform the Directorate whenever it is proven or else suspected that any marine equipment placed on board a Maltese flagged ship is not in compliance with the applicable EU and international legislation. Moreover, organisations are also required to inform the Directorate of any fraudulent conformity documentation or wheel marks found on board the respective ships.