Following the provisional agreement reached with the European Parliament on 11 February 2019, on 6 June 2019, the Council of the European Union adopted a Directivemeant to simplify rules on seafarers’ training and certification. The new rules, entering into force 20 days after their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union, will contribute to maintaining a high level of safety at sea and preventing pollution, at the same time easing the free movement of seafarers within the EU and increasing the sector’s attractiveness in terms of career options.

The Directive ranks within the international framework in this area made up by the International Maritime Organisation’s International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (‘STCW Convention’), and 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.

In particular, it will streamline the procedure for recognising seafarers from third countries, under which currently 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 new rules will also 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.