The EU threat to derecognise the certificates of Filipino officers serving on board EU-registered vessels has not gone away. By all indications, the proposal is still on the table at the European Commission. It may well stay there for some time given Manila’s failure — despite repeated inspections by the European Maritie Safety Agency (EMSA) — to fully comply with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW).

The situation seems paradoxical. According to the EMSA’s EU seafarer statistics for 2017 published just this August, a total of 30,615 Filipino masters and officers held endorsements issued by EU member states attesting their recognition (EaR for short). This figure represents more than a third of the 87,810 officers from non-EU countries whose original Ceritficates of Competency (CoCs) had been endorsed by various individual EU nations.

Distribution of masters and officers holding valid EaRs by region of the country issuing the original CoC:

Source: Seafarers’ Statistics in the EU: Statistical review (2017 data STCW-IS). You can download a copy from here.

If so many Filipino ship officers were deemed to be properly trained and certificated, why the threat to wtihdraw recognition of their certificates?

True, the EMSA has the right to inspect the training facilities and procedures of non-EU countries supplying crews to European shipowners. Such inspections are done on behalf of the EU member states. But doesn’t this imply that the European Commission, in whose name the EMSA inspections are conducted, does not trust the judgement of individual EU member states that issue the endorsements?

A more serious question: Is this another instance of Brussels dictating how things should be run in the sovereign nation states of the EU — possibly against the wishes of those countries? Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his fellow Brexiteers might think so.

It’s all food for thought in this season of uncertainties.

~ Barista Uno

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