European Commission decision reinforces the crucial role Filipino seafarers play in global shipping and trade.
The European Commission announced today that it will continue to recognize the training and certification system of the Philippines, confirming the nation’s compliance with the requirements of the STWC Convention.
The decision has been met with praise from both the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), who recognize the integral role Filipino seafarers play in global shipping and maintaining the flow of international trade.
The Philippines is one of the world’s largest maritime labor supply countries and is instrumental in keeping global shipping afloat, considering Filipino seafarers accounting for 14% of the global workforce in shipping.
In December 2021, following a detailed assessment of the training and certification system in place, the European Commission informed the Philippines that recognition of their seafarer certificates would be withdrawn unless serious measures were taken, including the compliance with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for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.
The European Commission’s decision comes after the Philippines responded to a report from the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) that highlighted deficiencies in the country’s training and certification standards.
Industry partners, including ECSA and ICS, have expressed their commitment to working with the Filipino authorities, seafarers’ representatives, and the shipping industry to build continuity and sustainability in the Filipino system. To this end, they have joined forces with the government of the Philippines under the newly formed International Advisory Committee on Global Maritime Affairs (IACGMA), which began operating in January.
ECSA Secretary General Sotiris Raptis commended the Philippines for their commitment to addressing the concerns raised by the European Commission, saying, “This is a positive development as Filipino seafarers play a central role in European shipping and in keeping European trade moving.” Raptis added that ECSA will continue to facilitate productive dialogue between the EU and the Philippines on matters such as seafarers’ qualifications, training, and certification.
ICS Secretary General Guy Platten echoed these sentiments, stating that the European Commission’s decision highlights the Philippines’ dedication to ensuring seafarer training complies with international regulations.
“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,” said Platten. “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.”
European Commissioner for Transport Adina V?lean expressed appreciation for the constructive cooperation with the Philippine authorities and welcomed 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,” she said.
In the coming months, the European Commission intends to provide the Philippines with technical assistance to further improve its education, training and certification system for seafarers,
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