Forty-eighth Report of Session 2010-12 - European Scrutiny Committee Contents


18 Training for seafarers

(33147)

14256/11

COM (11) 555

Draft Directive amending Directive 2008/106/EC on the minimum level of training for seafarers

Legal baseArticle 100(2) TFEU; co-decision; QMV
DepartmentTransport
Basis of considerationMinister's letter of 21 November 2011
Previous Committee ReportHC 428-xxxix (2010-12), chapter 3 (26 October 2011)
To be discussed in Council12 December 2011
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared

Background

18.1 The International Maritime Organisation's International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW Convention) is part of the international regulatory framework for shipping. All Member States, including the UK, are parties to the STCW Convention.

18.2 In 2010 changes to the STCW Convention were adopted in Manila. They are known as the Manila Amendment. The main changes are:

  • strengthened provisions concerning training and assessment, the issue of certificates of competency and prevention of fraudulent practices;
  • updated standards relating to medical fitness, fitness for duty and alcohol abuse;
  • new requirements concerning certification for able seafarers and for electro-technical officers and security related training for all seafarers;
  • updated requirements for personnel on certain types of ships; and
  • clarification and simplification of the definition of "certificate".

All Member States, including the UK, were involved in the review of the STCW Convention launched by the International Maritime Organisation in 2007 and which culminated in the Manila Amendment.

18.3 All previous amendments to the STCW Convention have been transposed into EU law by means of Directives.

18.4 The Commission presents this draft Directive to incorporate the provisions of the Manila Amendment into EU law, so avoiding conflict between EU obligations and the international obligations of its Member States. However the draft Directive includes two additional requirements which are not part of the Manila Amendment:

  • a change to the timeframe for the Commission to recognise the training and certification of seafarers from third countries for use on EU flagged ships from three months to 18 months; and
  • a requirement for Member States to submit the details of individual seafarers with issued or endorsed certificates to the Commission, through a database developed by the European Maritime Safety Agency, in order to gather concise and up to date information about the seafaring profession within the EU.

18.5 When we considered this proposal, in October 2011, we commented that whilst, like the Government, we had no difficulty with the generality of the draft Directive, we shared the concern about the proposed requirement for submission to the Commission of details of individual seafarer certification, both in relation to an anonymising question and to the costs involved. So before considering the matter further we asked to hear about progress in disposing of this issue in discussion of the proposal. Meanwhile the document remained under scrutiny.[95]

The Minister's letter

18.6 The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport (Mike Penning) writes now to tell us, on the proposed requirement for submission of details of individual seafarer certification, that:

  • while the UK was isolated in questioning the merit of an EU database of seafarer certification, the Government was successful, nevertheless, in obtaining an amendment to the proposed Directive to ensure that the anonymisation of seafarer personal data is made a mandatory pre-condition of the obligation to transfer data;
  • the Commission has confirmed that funding for the database is already provided for the next financial period within the budget of the European Maritime Safety Agency;
  • as for any future decisions on maintenance and upgrading of the anonymising software, the Government has successfully negotiated an amendment which would require an implementing act to be agreed to determine measures for transmitting data — anonymisation and costs are inherent to the process of transmitting data and as such this provision would allow it to influence any future discussions; and
  • the Government has discussed its concerns with the European Maritime Safety Agency over the ease and cost of extracting data from national databases and converting it for inclusion in the database managed by the agency — it is encouraged that there is to be a degree of flexibility and that advice will be offered by the agency to national administrations.

18.7 The Minister also says that as a result of the Government's negotiations:

  • the use of delegated acts would now be limited to amending the Directive only with regards to further updates to the STCW Convention;
  • there is now specific language in the text which would prevent the use of delegated acts to override the provisions requiring the anonymisation of data before transmission;
  • Member States would now have 18 months to implement the changes in the Directive which reflect the STCW amendments, thus replicating the deadline agreed between States and the International Maritime Organisation; and
  • with regard to the European Maritime Safety Agency database, the obligation to transfer data would only begin after 24 months following adoption of the Directive.

18.8 The Minister concludes that:

  • overall the Government believes that the proposal as substantially amended in negotiations addresses its earlier concerns;
  • the Presidency is hoping that a general approach can be reached at the Transport Council on 12 December 2011; and
  • the Government expects that this can be achieved.

Conclusion

18.9 We are grateful to the Minister for this account of where matters now stand on this draft Directive. Having no further questions to ask we clear the document.





95   See headnote. Back


 
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Prepared 15 December 2011