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January 17, 2003

Now EC plans action on seafarer certification
The European Commission today took its initiatives to enhance maritime safety a step further. This time, though, rather than racing ahead of international requirements, the Commission seems to be playing catch-up. It is proposing a Community-wide recognition system for certificates of competency issued to seafarers from outside the European Union. It called the proposal "of particular importance in the light of recent maritime disasters."

The objective of the proposed legislation is to ensure that non-Community seafarers working on board of Community ships are trained and certified according to the minimum international requirements. Loyola de Palacio, Vice President of the Commission in charge of transport and energy launched this proposal explained that "It is our responsibility to require the highest skills levels for the crew on EU ships. This proposal is an important part of our overall strategy to improve maritime safety and will complete accordingly our action favoring the development of EU flags. This proposal will go a long way to correcting the present situation and I call on all maritime nations to continue to improve seafarers' skills"

The Commission proposes the improvement of the current procedure for the recognition of mariners' certificates of competency issued outside the Union through a system of Community-wide recognition of certificates from labor-supplying third countries.

In addition, the Commission proposes to bring the provisions of the existing EC Directive on seafarers' training into line with the relevant international requirements(1) concerning language requirements for certificates of competency and safety communications between the ship and the land-based authorities .

The proposal puts forward an amendment to Directive 2001/25/EC in order to:

  • Improve the current procedure for the recognition of certificates issued by third countries, by introducing a system of Community-wide recognition of third countries' certificates and providing for specific procedures to monitor compliance by third countries with the maritime training and certification requirements of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW Convention).
  • * Update the Directive as regards language requirements for certification of seafarers and communication between the ship and the shore-based authorities, in line with the relevant requirements of the STCW Convention and the International Convention for the safety of life at sea, 1974, as amended.

The Commission proposal revises and complements the existing Directive 2001/25/EC, which transposes into Community law the international requirements as set out in the STCW Convention, following difficulties encountered in the application of the current procedure for the recognition of certificates issued outside the Union, established under the Directive.

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