Although EMSA was not given tasks and responsibilities in respect of maritime security until 2004 following the coming into force of Regulation (EC) No 724/2004, the concept of security in the maritime sector is not new. Following the seizure of the Achille Lauro cruise ship in 1985, there was much speculation that an increased number of security incidents would follow.
In recent years, the maritime industry has been broadly evaluating security at its facilities and voluntarily taking actions to improve security as deemed appropriate based on shipping trade area, geographic location, potential risk to workers and the surrounding communities, and potential risk attacks.
Terrorism ties and political agendas are the latest trend in motivation for stealing cargo and ships, suggesting that "modern pirates" are increasing the violence and the severity of the attacks.
However, it took the tragic events of 11 September 2001 for the maritime community to agree the need for international maritime security requirements. Following intensive discussions, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in December 2002 adopted new international maritime security requirements in the SOLAS Convention 1974, new Chapter XI-2, and a new International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code. They were required to be implemented by 1 July 2004.
Until then, the majority of terrorist surveillance, and response measures, put in place throughout the EU have been as a result of individual action at Member State level. These include measures to protect against terrorism in the maritime sector which vary significantly across the EU. Following adoption of the new IMO security regime, the EU Member States agreed the need for measures at Community level and to achieve this, Regulation (EC) No 725/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 March 2004 on enhancing ship and port facility security was adopted. The purpose of the new Regulation is to introduce and implement in a harmonised manner measures aimed at enhancing the security of ships engaged on international voyages and domestic shipping, including associated port facilities.
Acting pursuant to that Regulation, the Commission adopted a Regulation laying down procedures for conducting Commission inspections in the field of maritime security, in order to monitor the application of Regulation (EC) No 725/2004 at the level of each Member State and of individual port facilities and relevant Companies. Following the coming into force of Directive 2005/65/EC on enhancing port security (see below), a revised Commission Regulation (EC) No 324/2008 was adopted on 9 April 2008 to incorporate procedures for monitoring Member States' implementation of the Directive jointly with the Commission's inspections under Regulation 725/2004. On the basis of this legislation, inspections are coordinated and prepared by the Commission.
EMSA's mandate is set out in Regulation (EC) No 1406/2002, as amended, and is to provide technical assistance to the Commission, including in the performance of the Commission's inspection tasks, in respect of ships, relevant companies and Recognised Security Organisations (RSOs) authorised to undertake certain security-related activities. These inspections started in 2005 with the Member States' National Administrations, for which the Commission requested EMSA's participation in relation to the ships' part. EMSA participated in the first inspections of ships in 2006 and in 2007 the first inspections of shipping companies and RSOs have taken place.
EMSA also participates in the MARSEC Committee (comprising the Commission and representatives of Member States) – set up under Regulation (EC) No 725/2004 - in order to follow closely the developments associated with the implementation of the security requirements by the Member States.
Although not an area where EMSA currently has a role, further security requirements have recently been implemented in the EU based on Directive 2005/65/EC on enhancing port security. This Directive requires that Member States extend security measures from the ship-port interface (the port facility) to the whole port area. Implementation by Member States was required by 15 June 2007. These measures will further enhance maritime security across the EU.