After 15-month review, PHL gets EU nod on seafarers


THE European Commission (EC) has decided to continue recognizing the seafarers’ certification of the Philippines, reversing a threat to ban Filipino seafarers from boarding European-flagged vessels.

In a statement, the EC Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport said the Philippine government made “serious efforts to comply with the requirements” to comply with the international standards on basic safety training course.

The Philippines is one of the largest maritime labor suppliers in the world with 300,000 to 350,000 deployed at any given time. 

Around 50,000 Filipinos work in European-flagged state vessels, the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) estimates.

An audit by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) in December 2021 said the recognition of the Philippine seafarer certificates would be withdrawn due to a number of deficiencies in seafarers monitoring, supervision and evaluation of training and assessment.

It found inconsistencies in Philippine compliance with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for seafarers (STCW).

Marina appealed the audit and showed efforts to correct the deficiencies.

“We appreciate the constructive cooperation with the Philippine authorities and welcome their efforts to improve the system for training and certifying seafarers,” Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said.

“The Philippines provide a significant and valued part of the European and global shipping industry’s maritime work force…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,” Vălean added.

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 Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., on the margins of the EU-Asean summit last December.

In a letter received by Marina Administrator Hernani N. Fabia, the EC’s Directorate General for Mobility and Transport conveyed the decision to extend EU “recognition of the Republic of Philippines in relation to its training and certification system for seafarers.”

The EC’s Directorate General for Mobility and Transport recalled that, “The assessment of the European Commission has identified a number of serious deficiencies in the Republic of the Philippines’ STCW system in areas related to:

n Monitoring, supervision and evaluation of training and assessment;

n Examination and assessment of competence;

n Programme and course design and approval;

n Availability and use of training facilities and simulators;

n On-board training;

n Issue, revalidation and registration of certificates and endorsements.”

Manila provided its response to this assessment, including details of the actions taken, on the six key areas.

“Based on the answers of the Republic of the Philippines, and on all available information, the Commission has concluded that the measures taken demonstrate concrete progress and improvement as regards the compliance with the requirements of the STCW Convention.

“The outcome of the analysis allows the EU to extend the recognition of the Republic of Philippines STCW system,” said the EC.

It reminded Manila, however, that, “Nevertheless, the services of the European Commission consider that there are still issues to be addressed.”