Reducing administrative burdens for seafarers

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A joint declaration by the Social Partners for Maritime Transport, ECSA and ETF.

 The reduction of administrative burdens for seafarers has been high on the agenda of the Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee (SSDC) for Maritime Transport in the past years. In the context of the SSDC, ECSA and ETF – the recognised Social Partners for Maritime Transport – have assessed the different administrative burdens currently faced by seafarers and have identified the relevant Commission services competent to address these burdens by means of a Joint Action Plan

ECSA and ETF would like to underline the need to ensure that existing administrative burdens for seafarers are being addressed soonest and in a satisfactory manner. In the light of the various initiatives at EU level, they have issued joint declaration to reiterate the following points:

  • The first way to address administrative burdens for seafarers would be through a simplification of existing administrative procedures and/or an integration of existing IT systems. Indeed, the establishment of a Single Window would allow shipping companies to lodge electronically all relevant administrative formalities to a single body. Furthermore, an integration of existing IT systems, particularly of AIS, VTS and SafeSeaNet – at EU level – would improve the monitoring of ships and ease administrative procedures of vessels entering or leaving EU ports, including customs procedures. In addition, an integration of port information systems would speed up the port operations of vessels.

  •  The second way to address administrative burdens for seafarers would be through a rationalization of the information that is requested by the various competent public authorities, e.g. by means of a reduction of the number of notifications and through one-shot inspections. The creation of a single electronic document that would cover all basic information laid down in existing administrative forms (such as FAL forms) as well as the various specific data that are requested in each individual administrative form, would be a major step towards reducing the administrative burdens for seafarers.Furthermore, a coordination of inspections onboard ships by the relevant public authorities, whereby they would all board the ship at the same time and only once would definitively reduce delays and improve turnaround times for ships.

  •  The third way to address administrative burdens for seafarers would be through harmonized interpretation and/or application of Schengen Visa rules for crew. Indeed, for some time now, the shipping industry is confronted with difficulties in obtaining Schengen Visa for crew members as the result of a lack of uniform interpretation and/or application of the relevant rules of the Schengen Visa Code. A harmonisation of the interpretation and/or application of the relevant rules through amendments to the Schengen Visa Handbook or a revision of the Schengen Visa Code itself (e.g. allowing for multiple entry visa for bona fide seafarers) would greatly facilitate the issue of visa to seafarers.