A British MEP has told the European Parliament that 2,000 containers are lost overboard from ships in EU waters every year.
Labour's Brian Simpson - who chairs the parliament's Transport Committee - was questioning the Commission on how the problem can be tackled.
He said there was a problem of overloaded containers and poor standards of lashing and stowing and called for automatic tracking beacons to be attached to every container.
Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn responded that legislation on shipping containers was currently at a national or global level, but did not rule out future initiatives by the EU.
However she said an impact assessment study would need to be carried out before any new laws were brought in.
A number of MEPs called for the Commission to take a tougher position, with French centre-right MEP Dominique Riquet highlighting that many containers float rather than sinking, posing a serious risk to other ships.
In 2007 the International Chamber of Shipping and the World Shipping Council began work on a code of practice for container storage.
The same year saw a number of containers washed up in the English Channel off the Devon coast after the cargo ship MSC Napoli ran aground.
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