COVID-19: Urgent action needed to facilitate issuance of EU Schengen Visas

26 May 2020


ETF and ECSA addressed a letter to the European Commission and the EU Member States, urging them to take action to ensure seafarers are admitted into the EU Schengen territory for the purpose of joining their ships or to be repatriated. 

They call upon the EU Member States and EU institutions to ensure that shipping is able to benefit from the re-establishment of transport links between Europe and other parts of the world and effect crew changes in European ports.

If crew changes do not happen as planned, the health, safety and welfare of seafarers suffer tremendously.

While there have been some positive developments in the EU member states and third countries in facilitating the movement of seafarers, these efforts are at risk of being nullified. Third country seafarers are often unable to obtain the visa they require in order to temporarily enter the Schengen territory to join or leave a ship since most diplomatic missions are closed or not fully functional and visas on arrival are not widely available. Crew change arrangements, therefore, risk being stalled.

In the note accompanying the letter, the two social partners outline the issues seafarers are currently facing in crew changes and what steps need to be taken to solve them.

The letters are available here, and the note here.