The European Commission has decided March 31 to continue recognizing certificates for seafarers issued by the Philippines, one of the world’s largest maritime labor supply countries.
In December 2021, following a detailed assessment of the training and certification system in place, the Commission had informed the Philippines that recognition of their seafarer certificates would be withdrawn unless serious measures were taken, including the compliance with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for seafarers (STCW). Since then, the Philippines has made serious efforts to comply with the requirements, in particular in key areas like the monitoring, supervision and evaluation of training and assessment.
Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said: “We appreciate the constructive cooperation with the Philippine authorities and welcome their efforts to improve the system for training and certifying seafarers. The Philippines provide a significant and valued part of the European and global shipping industry’s maritime workforce – indeed, with roughly 50,000 Filipino masters and officers currently working on EU-flagged ships. The Philippines can count on our technical support to further improve the implementation and oversight of minimum education, training and certification requirements, as well as living and working conditions.”
In the coming months, the Commission intends to provide the Philippines with technical assistance to further improve its education, training and certification system for seafarers, as was also discussed between President Ursula von der Leyen and President of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos, in the margins of the EU-ASEAN summit last December.
ECSA (European Community Shipowners’ Associations) and ICS (International Chamber of Shipping) welcome the decision of the European Commission to continue to recognize the certificates of Filipino seafarers, confirming the compliance of the Philippines with the requirements of the STWC Convention. The decision follows the response by authorities of the Philippines to a report by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) that explored the deficiencies in the country’s standards of training and certification.
Filipino seafarers represent 14% of the global workforce in the sector and are instrumental in keeping global shipping running. Industry partners remain committed to work with the industry, seafarers’ representatives and the Filipino authorities to build continuity and sustainability in the Filipino system. For this purpose, ECSA and ICS along with other industry partners and the government of the Philippines have started working together in January under the newly established International Advisory Committee on Global Maritime Affairs (IACGMA).
“European shipowners welcome the recognition of the training and the certification system of the Philippines. We congratulate the country for their commitment and their in-depth response to the shortcomings identified by the Commission,” said ECSA Secretary General Sotiris Raptis.
“This is a positive development as Filipino seafarers play a central role in European shipping and in keeping European trade moving. By engaging with the authorities of the Philippines together with our industry partners, ECSA strives to facilitate a productive dialogue between the country and the EU on matters of key importance such as seafarers’ qualifications, training, and certification.”
Guy Platten, ICS Secretary General added: “As a major seafaring nation, Filipino seafarers are a vital and valued part of the seafarer workforce. This decision made by the European Commission is a testament to the Philippines’ hard work to make sure seafarer training complies with regulations. The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is delighted to be convening partners to ensure these standards are maintained globally.
“In January 2023 a new advisory committee was launched to give expert advice on major maritime issues affecting Filipino seafarers, the International Advisory Committee for Global Maritime Standards, which is supported by the Philippines government and in collaboration with ECSA and industry partners. By all of us working together on these issues, we can tackle the challenges ahead for our workforce. Maintaining seafarer training standards globally ensures a brighter future for our seafarers.”
Photo credit: iStock/ Igor-Kardasov