Seafarers’ Training: EU Council Seeks To Align Rules  With International Standard

The Council adopted its position (general approach) on a proposal to simplify and streamline the existing EU regulatory framework on seafarers’ training and certification. The aim of the reform is to keep EU rules aligned with international rules and to amend the centralised mechanism for the recognition of seafarers from third countries in order to increase its efficiency and effectiveness. It will also increase legal clarity regarding the mutual recognition of seafarers’ certificates issued by member states.

Norbert Hofer, Minister for Transport, Innovation and Technology of Austria says:  “The human factor is a vital element for safety at sea, and high-level training for seafarers is essential to minimise all risks. These revised rules will simplify procedures while making sure we maintain the highest standards.”

The international framework in this area is the International Maritime Organisation’s International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (‘STCW Convention’). Under the common EU mechanism for recognition of seafarers’ certificates from third countries, the Commission must regularly check that EU member states and third countries comply with the requirements of the EU directive and the STCW Convention. The amended directive would streamline the procedure for recognising new third countries and revise the deadlines.

When it comes to the recognition of other member states’ seafarers, the new rules would clarify which certificates need to be mutually recognised so as to allow seafarers certified by one EU country to work on board vessels flying another EU country’s flag.

Under the Council text, member states would have three years to adopt national provisions to put the new rules into practice.

The general approach adopted today forms the Council’s position for negotiations with the European Parliament. Both institutions have to approve the text before it can enter into force.