The EESC broadly supports the objectives set out by the Commission in its proposal amending Directive 2008/106/EC on the minimum level of training of seafarers, repealing Directive 2005/45/EC on the mutual recognition of seafarers' certificates issued by Member States. The EESC considers the changes provided in the regulatory framework to be necessary, proportionate and cost effective.
Whilst acknowledging the fact that both directives have contributed to both the improvement of maritime education and training of seafarers working on board EU-flagged vessels and the professional mobility of seafarers certified in the EU, the EESC considers it advisable to take one step further in that field. Therefore, the EESC recommends capitalising on the revision of Directive 2008/106/EC to call for a wider European debate involving the Commission, the Member States, the training institutions and the industry on how to further invest in the European maritime skills base in order to safeguard both the competitiveness of the European fleet and the sector's capacity to generate good quality jobs for European seafarers and other maritime professionals.
In particular, the EESC recommends working towards establishing an EU forum involving the training institutions, the industry, the broader maritime cluster and national maritime administrations to improve seafarers' maritime training and to develop European maritime postgraduate courses which go beyond the internationally agreed minimum level of training of seafarers. Such advanced training would make it possible to create a competitive advantage for European seafarers by equipping them with skills above those required at international level and enhance the attractiveness of the seafaring professions in the EU, especially as regards women and young people.
Regarding the revamped mechanism for the recognition of seafarers' certificates issued by third countries, the EESC sees it of upmost importance for requesting Member States to consult with national shipowners' associations and trade union organisations on the desirability of recognising a new third country, prior to submitting the request to the Commission. The EESC wishes further to clarify that – where available – the estimation of seafarers likely to be employed will only be one criteria in the decision process of the recognition of a new third country and that it needs to be followed in a transparent manner.
As there can be no compromise on maritime safety, the EESC recommends that those third countries which supply a limited number of masters and officers to the EU fleet should not undergo a less stringent reassessment regime than the other countries.