Task Force on maritime employment puts forward set of policy recommendations to European Commission

The Task Force on Maritime Employment and Competitiveness, set up by the European Commission in 2010 and chaired by Sir Robert Coleman, has this week completed its work and published a set of policy recommendations.


The mandate of this Task Force, given to them by the European Commission in 2010, was to identify the main obstacles to entry to the maritime profession by young Europeans, and to provide the European Commission with policy recommendations on how to promote employment in the EU maritime sector while maintaining its competitiveness. These recommendations, from independent experts appointed on the basis of their maritime expertise, will feed into the Commission’s ongoing work towards a “Maritime Social Package”, expected in autumn this year.


Among the issues identified as discouraging Europeans from pursuing a maritime career, the report highlights unattractive working and living conditions on board, lack or absence of internet access, limitation of shore leave (often due to difficulties in obtaining visas), fear of piracy, and the criminalisation of seafarers.


Taking into account the above mentioned obstacles, the Task Force put forward the following recommendations of relevance to our Members:


·         Manning requirements for offshore related services: the Task Force suggests that Member States should be authorised to establish manning conditions on vessels providing off-shore-related services to installations within their territory.

·         Seafarer’s exemptions from EU labour laws: the Commission is reviewing six EU labour law Directives that exclude seafarers from their scope of application. The Task Force advises the Commission to eliminate or amend the existing exemptions from four of these Directives (including on the protection of employees in case of insolvency of their employer, and on the safeguarding of employees’ rights in case of transfer of undertakings or businesses). Reasons given include no clear justification for the exemptions at present, and the need to eliminate the impression that seafarers are less well protected by EU labour laws as this may contribute to a lack of interest in maritime careers.

·         Maritime Labour Convention: the report supports the EU’s efforts to ensure the Convention’s entry into force. The Task Force suggests that dialogue should continue with Member States to ensure rapid ratification and entry into force, and it also proposes that the implementation and enforcement of the MLC be a part of the IMO Flag State Auditing Scheme (which Member States must now comply with). It furthermore proposes that Port State Control authorities should perform targeted inspections to ensure the application of the MLC.

·        STCW Convention: the Commission should ensure the enforcement of the STCW Convention, in particular when assessing third countries’ training institutes and certificates.

·         State aid: the Commission should maintain the present state aid framework. The report acknowledges that some members of the Task Force suggested the introduction of conditionality for tonnage tax regimes linked to the employment of European seafarers.

·         Training and career development: the Task Force suggests the creation of an EU network, MARINET, involving all stakeholders in the maritime industry, to raise awareness of the career opportunities in the maritime profession.

·        Working and living conditions: frequent dialogue with social partners will be crucial to keep the maritime profession attractive. Improvement of communication technology on board should be a priority, and the Commission should consider the possibility of allowing state aid to help reach this objective.

·         Legal and administrative treatment of seafarers: according to the report, it is essential to ensure fair treatment of seafarers, for example by introducing a requirement for employers (ship owners and ship managers) to assist EU seafarers detained further to accidents/incidents, by ensuring legal representation and the payment of bail. The report states that in this respect, compulsory insurance should be assessed.

·         Shore leave: the Task Force recommends that officers in charge of security and border checks in ports should facilitate shore leave for seafarers, and recommends the European Commission to address further the problem of abandonment of seafarers.

·         Piracy: tackling the growing piracy threat should be a priority, and with that in mind, shipping companies should be given means (including weapons) to defend their crews. Flag states should grant appropriate legal authority subject to conditions concerning the organisations providing armed protection. A clearer legal framework for the prosecution of pirates should be created. 


The full report of the Task Force can be found here.

The list of experts composing the Task Force can be found here.


INTERTANKO has been in regular contact with the European Commission regarding its work on the upcoming “Maritime Social Package” and will continue to closely monitor further developments in this field.


Contact: Katharina Stanzel