The European Commission has decided to continue recognising certificates for seafarers issued by the Philippines, one of the world’s largest maritime labour supply countries.

The decision has been met with praise from the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA), who recognize the integral role Filipino seafarers play in global shipping and maintaining the flow of international trade.

Filipino seafarers represent 14% of the global workforce in the sector and are instrumental in keeping  global shipping running.

In December 2021, the Commission after a detailed assessment of the training and certification system in place in the year 2021, had informed the Philippines that recognition of their seafarer certificates would be withdrawn unless serious measures were taken, including the compliance with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for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, in accordance with the European Commission, to comply with the requirements, in particular in key areas like the monitoring, supervision and evaluation of training and assessment.

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 of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos, in the margins of the EU-ASEAN summit last December.

Industry partners, including ECSA and ICS, have expressed their commitment to work with the industry, seafarers’ representatives and the Filipino authorities to build continuity and sustainability in the Filipino system. ECSA and ICS along with other industry partners and the government of the Philippines, have started working together in January under the newly established International Advisory Committee on Global Maritime Affairs.

“European shipowners welcome the recognition of the training and the certification system of the Philippines. We congratulate the country for their commitment and their in-depth response to the shortcomings identified by the Commission.” said ECSA Secretary General Sotiris Raptis.

Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said: “We appreciate the constructive cooperation with the Philippine authorities and welcome 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.”