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PH, EU agree to boost maritime cooperation

PH, EU agree to boost maritime cooperation
Martin Sadongdong Oct 1, 2023

The Philippines and European Union (EU) committed to enhance its maritime cooperation and address critical issues relating to maritime security, defense, sustainable development, ocean governance and connectivity, and maritime law.

Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) Administrator Hernani Fabia disclosed this on Sunday, Oct. 1, after he attended the inaugural meeting of the Philippines-European Union (PH-EU) Sub-Committee on Maritime Cooperation at the headquarters of the European Commission (EC) in Brussels, Belgium last week.

At the meeting, Fabia reiterated the country’s commitment to continue the implementation of its corrective actions to sustain the quality of the country’s system of maritime education, training and certification.

He also extended the country’s appreciation for the positive decision of the EC to extend its recognition of Philippine-issued Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) certificate which ensures the employment of almost 50,000 Filipino marine officers onboard EU-flagged ships.

It can be recalled that the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) earlier flagged the Philippines for its repeated failure to hurdle their evaluation in the past 16 years, putting at risk the jobs of about 50,000 seafarers, after the former inspected the country's maritime education, training, and certification system from 2006 to 2020.

But after a careful evaluation of the country’s corrective actions to address the 2020 findings raised by EMSA, the EC concluded that the measures taken by the Philippines “demonstrate concrete progress and improvement as regards the compliance with the requirements of the STCW Convention.”

Meanwhile, the EU said that it is currently preparing the arrangements for the implementation of their €4-million (P240 million) technical assistance (TA) to the Philippines to help the country improve its compliance not only with the requirements of the STCW Convention but also the Maritime Labor Convention.

"The TA is expected to commence by the end of 2024 and will run up to 2027," the Marina said.

The technical assistance will be fully financed by the EU-member states, and supervised by the EC Directorate General for Mobility and Transport (DG-MOVE) and DG for International Partnerships (DG-INTPA).

The technical assistance is expected to improve the training of Filipino seafarers so they could continuously meet the requirements of the STCW Convention. The convention was the first to establish basic requirements on training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers on an international level.