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Mobility and Transport
News article6 July 2020Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport

Study on social aspects in the maritime transport sector

A study, ordered by the European Commission and published today, sheds light on the social challenges facing the maritime sector.

According to the study, the most prevalent issues facing the sector are:

  • low attractiveness;
  • a legal framework that fails to incentivise equal pay and gender equality;
  • the difficulty seafarers experience when accessing the justice system and social security protection;
  • challenges arising from digitalisation and automation in shipping.

In response, key recommendations include: modernising data gathering and vocational training; communicating the sector’s attractiveness (especially for women) more effectively; improving access to justice and social protection; adapting education and training to technological changes; and defining a common approach to implementing and enforcing the 2006 Maritime Labour Convention.

The study focuses on the period 2011-2018, and includes country and thematic case studies. The study also built on a large-scale stakeholder consultation and looked into socioeconomic and technological developments within the sector, as well as questions regarding social dumping and unfair competition in light of the 2006 Maritime Labour Convention.

Since the study has been ordered and finalised before the Covid-19 outbreak, issues stemming from the pandemic and its impact on seafarers have not been addressed. However, the Commission has maintained seafarers’ working and living conditions high on its agenda from the very first day of the pandemic outbreak. Commissioner Vălean issued on 25 June a statement regarding the situation of seafarers. The lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis and the areas for further improvement identified by the study will feed into the Commission’s follow-up.

The study has been prepared by an external contractor and does not necessarily represent the Commission’s view.

More information

Study on social aspects within the maritime transport sector:


Publication date
6 July 2020
Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport