A leading expert had called for strengthening rules on passenger safety on ships hours before the Costa Concordia disaster, the European Union's transport commissioner, Siim Kallas revealed on Tuesday, DPA reported.
Fifteen people have been confirmed dead and about 20 remain unaccounted for as a result of the ship running aground on January 13, off the island of Giglio in Italy.
On that day, "we had a working meeting discussing necessary proposals to look at safety of passengers ships and our leading official and our expert was present and said, 'we should do something before something happens,'" Kallas told the transport committee in the European Parliament.
But while the review of EU and international safety rules was already ongoing, the commissioner said the bloc should investigate what exactly went wrong with the Costa Concordia before rushing into new measures.
"We should wait for what comes out in this investigation," he said, adding that the EU executive was in regular contact with and was "very happy about the professionalism and commitment of Italian authorities."
Kallas suggested a possible strengthening of evacuation procedures and tightening registration requirements for passengers - amid Italian media reports that illegal immigrants were onboard the Costa, casting uncertainty on the exact number of missing people.
He was sceptical, however, about limiting the number of passengers that can be carried on board. "You cannot say that the size itself (of cruise ships) causes problems," he told lawmakers.
The commission may propose fresh EU legislation "after the summer," Kallas said, and also suggest global action at the International Maritime Organization, the United Nations agency overseeing worldwide ship safety.
Kallas also recalled that new EU rules giving passengers the right to claim up to 21,000 euros (27,300 dollars) have already been approved, but they are due to enter into force only on January 1, 2013.
That leaves out the victims of the Costa Concordia disaster, who will have to pursue their claims following Italian legal procedures, the commissioner said.