The European Commission announced today that it will continue to recognize the Philippines’ training and certification system, confirming the country’s compliance with the requirements of the STWC Convention.
The decision was lauded by both the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), which recognize the essential role Filipino seafarers play in global shipping and keeping international trade flowing.
The Philippines is one of the world’s largest maritime labor supply countries and is instrumental in keeping global shipping afloat considering that Filipino seafarers make up 14% of the global shipping workforce.
In December 2021, following an in-depth assessment of the existing training and certification system, the European Commission notified the Philippines that it would lose recognition of its seafarers’ certificates unless serious action was taken, including compliance with the International Convention on Training Standards, Certification and Seafarers’ Watchkeeping Service (STCW). Since then, the Philippines has made serious efforts to meet the requirements, especially in key areas such as supervision, monitoring and assessment of training and assessment.
The European Commission’s decision came after the Philippines responded to a report by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) that revealed shortcomings in the country’s training and certification standards.
Industry partners, including ECSA and ICS, have expressed their commitment to work with Philippine authorities, seafarers’ representatives and the shipping industry to build continuity and sustainability in the Philippine system. To this end, they have joined forces with the government of the Philippines as part of the newly formed International Advisory Committee on Global Maritime Affairs (IACGMA), which began work in January.
Commending the Philippines for its commitment to address concerns raised by the European Commission, ECSA Secretary General Sotiris Raptis said: “This is a positive development as Filipino seafarers play a central role in European shipping and keep European trade flowing. Raptis added that ECSA will continue to promote productive dialogue between the EU and the Philippines on issues such as seafarers’ qualifications, training and certification.
ICS Secretary General Guy Platten echoed these views, saying that the European Commission’s decision underscores the Philippines’ commitment to ensure seafarers’ training conforms to international regulations.
“In January 2023, a new Advisory Committee was established to provide expert advice on key maritime issues affecting Filipino seafarers, the International Advisory Committee for Global Maritime Standards, supported by the Philippine government and in collaboration with ECSA and industry partners,” Platten said . “By all working together on these issues, we can address the challenges facing our workforce. Upholding seafarer training standards worldwide ensures a brighter future for our seafarers.”
Adina Vélean, Commissioner for Transport, expressed her appreciation for the constructive cooperation with the Philippine authorities and welcomed their efforts to improve the seafarers’ training and certification system.
“The Philippines provides a significant and valued part of the European and global shipping industry’s maritime workforce – with around 50,000 Filipino masters and officers currently working on EU-flagged ships. The Philippines can count on our technical assistance to further improve the implementation and monitoring of the minimum requirements for education, training and certification, as well as living and working conditions,” she said.
In the coming months, the European Commission intends to provide technical assistance to the Philippines to further improve its education, training and certification system for seafarers,
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