May 30th, 2011

Filipino seafarers can possibly face a ban on EU flagships

An unfavorable report from the European Commission on maritime training in the Philippines could possibly result in thousands of Filipino seafarers being banned from European Union flagships.

Industry sources believe that Brussels have already notified Manila to address the problems as soon as possible. In the event that the report is taken lightly, the world’s number one labor supply nation is set to find itself with the same situation as Georgia.

Last year, Georgia received the withdrawal of the recognition of the European Union flagships as they were not able to comply with the said committee’s Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping certificates.

The raised concern will not only be a problem for Filipino seafarers but to the European shipping industry as well. Currently there is already a scarcity on officers and crews in the shipping industry which can possibly create additional problems for the European Union flagships.

As of the moment the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) confirmed that the assessment has already been sent to the commission for assessment.

If the withdrawal of recognition pushes through, EU administrations would not be able to endorse recognition of certificates of competency to Filipino officers in the future. Although, previously acquired Filipino seafarers would not be affected by the new ruling in case the withdrawal pushes through as it would not be a retrospective ruling.

The bigger problem though lies ahead as owners operating under EU flags will be unable to hire new Filipino recruits. Worst, some have already invested heavily in maritime academies in the Philippines which they cannot capitalize on if the withdrawal indeed pushes through.

However, maritime employers are confident that the Philippines can address the problems properly in due time. According to the secretary-general of the International Maritime Employers’ Committee Giles Heimann “The Philippines is treating it very seriously and the government body that looks after the education system is going to withdraw licenses from certain schools which it feels is not performing properly.”

Heimann added “I think the Philippines will sort itself out. It has been put on notice and from the information I have, it is taking it very seriously and doing what it can to sort it out.”