Documents considered by the Committee on 12 September 2018 Contents

14Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2008/106/EC on the minimum level of training of seafarers and repealing Directive 2005/45/EC

Committee’s assessment

Legally and politically important

Committee’s decision

Not cleared from scrutiny; further information requested

Document details

Proposal for a Directive on the training of seafarers (amending and repealing)

Legal base

Article 100(2) TFEU; ordinary legislative procedure; QMV

Department

Transport

Document Number

(39914), 9123/18 + ADDs 1–2, COM(18) 315

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

14.1The proposal under scrutiny would revise, simplify and streamline the current Union-level framework governing the education, training and certification of seafarers.

14.2This framework is comprised of Directive 2008/106/EC and Directive 2005/45/EC. The former Directive, 2008/106/EC, integrates, at EU-level, the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers of 1978 (the ‘STCW Convention’). The Convention sets minimum qualification standards for masters, officers and watch personnel on seagoing merchant ships, and applies to all ships trading internationally and to seafarers working outside of their own waters. Directive 2008/106/EC also provides a mechanism for the recognition of systems of maritime education, training and certification of ‘third countries’ (countries that are not EU Member States).120

14.3This mechanism involves a Member State requesting, in writing, that the Commission accept a Certificate of Competency—attesting to a seafarers’ qualifications—from a third country that is compliant with the STCW Convention. As soon as a Member State submits such a request, it can recognise the third country’s seafaring officers to work on its nationally registered (flagged) vessels. The Commission then instructs the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) to undertake an inspection visit. Once the third country has demonstrated that its national procedures and practices conform with the STCW Convention, the Commission places the third country on an acceptance list. This allows any Member State, subject to the issuance of an endorsement (a form of authorisation), to accept seafarers from the third country to work on its flagged vessels.

14.4The latter Directive, 2005/45/EC, provides for the mutual recognition of seafarers’ certificates between Member States. The Directive ensures that all seafarers—who hold qualifications issued by a Member State—are permitted to serve onboard ships flying the flag of any other Member State. The Directive requires Member States to issue endorsements to seafarers holding qualifications from other Member States upon presentation of nationally issued certification.

14.5In light of the findings of a recent regulatory fitness and performance programme assessment (‘REFIT’), the Commission is proposing to amend the current legislative framework on the education, training and certification of seafarers. The REFIT assessment suggests changes to Directive 2008/106/EC—and the repeal of Directive 2005/45/EC—in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of current measures aimed at ensuring maritime safety and promoting the mobility of professional mariners. These suggestions include:

14.6The proposal seeks to address these suggestions by:

14.7On withdrawal from the EU, the UK will be a third country for the purposes of Directive 2008/106/EC. As a consequence, in order to work onboard a vessel flagged in the EU, UK seafarers will be reliant on Member States writing to the Commission to request that it accepts UK-issued certificates (rules on mutual—or automatic—recognition will no longer apply). As is currently the case, the proposed changes to the Directive would not prevent UK seafarers—as third country nationals—from working onboard vessels flagged in a ‘requesting’ Member State as soon as it has written to the Commission.

14.8Subject to transitional provision being made in the Withdrawal Agreement, as of EU exit, Member State endorsements will continue to be valid until their date of expiry. A master or officer with UK-issued certificates will only be able to work onboard vessels of flagged Member States for which they hold endorsements; transferring to other Member States will not be possible. This is because the basis for the recognition of UK-issued certificates will have changed (from the UK as a Member State to the UK as a third county). The Commission has drawn attention to the potential implications of UK withdrawal from the EU for the training and certification of seafarers in a recent Brexit preparedness notice to stakeholders.

14.9In her Explanatory Memorandum of 4 July 2018, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, Ms Nusrat Ghani, provides information on the potential implications of the proposal for UK maritime law and policy.

14.10The Minister welcomes the proposed changes to Directive 2008/106/EC, specifically, those reflecting updates to the STCW Convention and notes that the UK would have adopted these in any event. However, the Minister provides no view on the appropriateness of the proposed delegation of power to the Commission to make provision for future amendments to the Directive (in light of updates to the Convention).

14.11With regards to the suggested amendments to the existing mechanism for recognising certificates from third countries, the Minster raises a number of concerns. These relate, broadly, to the fear that changing the current procedure, in particular, by requiring Member States to submit preliminary information on the certification systems of third countries, would place an additional administrative burden on national agencies. By way of example, the proposed changes would require Member States to provide the Commission with an estimation of the number of masters and officers from the third country—for which they seek recognition—likely to be employed on nationally registered vessels.

14.12The Minister offers no opinion on the proposal to increase the length of time for deciding on the recognition of third counties, save for the view that doing so would not affect the ability of Member States to unilaterally recognise non-EU states.

14.13We thank the Minster for her Explanatory Memorandum and, in particular, are grateful for the level of detail it provides on the substance of the proposal. That having been said, we seek further information on the Government’s assessment of the proposal for UK maritime law and policy, specifically:

14.14Given the changes suggested to the current mechanism for recognising the education, training and qualifications of third country seafarers, whether:

14.15In light of the potential implications of UK withdrawal from the EU for seafarers with UK-issued certification, we request further information on:

14.16We ask for the requested information to be provided by 12 October 2018. Pending this, we retain the proposal under scrutiny.

Full details of the documents

(39914), 9123/18 + ADDs 1–2, COM(18) 315.

Previous Committee Report

None.


120 These certificates include ‘Certificates of Competency’ and ‘Certificates of Proficiency’.

122 As per Regulation I/10 of the STCW Convention.




Published: 18 September 2018