On 23 May 2018, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Recommendationon safety goals and functional requirements for passenger ships below 24 meters in length. The proposal is the first common safety framework for all small passenger ships presented at EU level.

Directive 2009/45/EC on safety rules and standards for passenger ships has introduced a common high safety level across the European Union. However, this has not been achieved for small ships: considering the wide range of services that these vessels are built for, that produces a very broad range of designs and technical solutions, it has been challenging to identify a common set of detailed rules harmonizing several key safety aspects.

The proposal for a Recommendation provides for safety goals and functional requirements for small passenger ships that concern, among others, the design and the construction of the ships, the fire safety systems and the life-saving appliances and arrangements. The proposal seeks to invite Member States to embrace the recommended safety approach. Since it is based on performance rather than prescriptive requirements, this approach better reflects the wide variety of designs, materials and operation of small passenger ships.

The proposal follows the Passenger Ship Safety package, adopted by the Council of the European Union in October 2017, and the recommendationsof the Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT) Fitness Check on EU passenger ship safety legislation.