The education and training of seafarers is an important issue for the EU, in order to maintain and develop the level of knowledge and skills in the maritime sector in the EU as well as in the interest of maritime safety. It is therefore essential to define and maintain a minimum level of training for seafarers in the EU.
In this respect, the EU has adopted a whole arsenal of specific rules on the training and certification of seafarers since 1994. The aim is, on one hand, to transpose into EU law the international standards enacted by the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW Convention , as amended) and, on the other hand, to ensure that all seafarers working on board EU ships have a level of competence at least equivalent to that required by the STCW Convention.
In particular, Directive 2008/106/EC on the minimum level of training of seafarers incorporates in EU law the STCW Convention. Directive 2008/106/EC has been amended by Directive 2012/35/EU so as to bring it in line with the latest amendments to the STCW Convention, namely the 'Manila Amendments'.
Directive 2008/106/EC as amended also lays down a common system of EU-wide recognition of third countries which comply with the requirements of the STCW Convention for the purpose of recognition by the Member States of seafarers' certificates of competency issued by these countries. The Commission with the assistance of EMSA has assessed a number of third countries and to date more than 40 such countries have been recognised at EU for STCW purposes. A country that has been recognised at EU is reassessed regularly by the Commission so as to ensure that it continues to comply with the requirements of the STCW Convention.