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EU cuts red tape for seafarers' training and certification

The Council recently adopted simpler rules on seafarers' training and certification. A streamlined regulatory framework will contribute to maintaining a high level of safety at sea and preventing pollution. The framework will also make it easier for seafarers to move freely within the EU, which will make the EU shipping sector a more attractive career option and so help address the shortage of qualified personnel.

The reform is designed to keep EU rules aligned with international rules and to make the centralised mechanism for the recognition of seafarers from third countries more efficient and effective. The revision will also increase legal clarity regarding the mutual recognition of seafarers' certificates issued by member states.

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 the recognition of seafarers' certificates from third countries, the Commission regularly carries out checks to ensure that EU member states and third countries comply with the requirements of the EU directive and the STCW Convention. The amended directive will streamline the procedure for recognising new third countries and revise the deadlines.

With regard to the recognition of other member states' seafarers, the new rules will 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.

Procedure and next steps


A provisional agreement on the draft directive was reached between the Romanian presidency and the European Parliament on 11 February 2019.

The legal act will now be published in the EU Official Journal. It will enter into force 20 days after publication. Member states will then have two years in which to incorporate its provisions into their national legislation.

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