Brussels, 14 September 2011 – The European Commission has adopted a proposal to bring the European Union directive on the training of seafarers in line with recently updated international rules. International rules set minimum standards, while EU rules ensure their enforcement in the EU.

The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (the “STCW Convention”) was concluded in 1978 among the countries that are members of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a UN agency. The convention deals with the requirements for training of seafarers (mainly officers) and the relevant certification. The convention was integrated into EU law for the first time in the 1990s and updated later when the convention was amended (1).

In 2007 the IMO launched a review of the STCW Convention, which resulted in the adoption of a series of significant amendments (2). These so-called “Manila amendments” to the convention concern:

  • updated standards for medical fitness, fitness for duty and alcohol abuse;
  • introduction of new professional profiles: “able seafarers” and “electro-technical officers”;
  • security-related training for all seafarers;
  • simpler and clearer types of certificates.

After 1 January 2012 seafarers will have to be trained according to the new standards.

EU Member States are also parties to the STCW Convention. Therefore, the proposal adopted today also aims to avoid any conflict between the international and the EU obligations of the Member States.

Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: “As maritime transport is a global industry, it is vital to also set minimum standards for training on an international scale.”

What’s next?

The proposal adopted today will follow the ordinary legislative procedure. It will be discussed by the European Parliament and the Council. This is the first in a series of measures focusing on people working in maritime transport.


Maritime transport in the EU-27 is predicted to grow from 3.8 billion tonnes in 2006 to some 5.3 billion tonnes in 2018 with consequences for the infrastructure – including ports – its links to the hinterland, and the shipping industry. This should be seen in the context of the overall expected growth of the world fleet. By 2018, worldwide capacity is expected to reach more than 2,100 million dwt in 2018 (up from 1,156 million dwt in 2008).

Source – European Commission.


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