IWT social partners respond to EC’s fitness check on market access legislation

2 Jun 2020


European Commission has initiated a fitness check on market access legislation in inland waterways transport. The aim is to assess existing pieces of legislation and evaluate if they are still fit for purpose. European IWT social partners – ETF, European Barge Union, and European Skippers’ Organisation – addressed a letter to European Commissioner for Transport A. Vàlean and European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs N. Schmit to present their positions on the part of legislation that deals with the coordination of social security in European Inland Waterways.

They focus on Regulation (EC) 883/2004 on the coordination of social system, that contains the rules to protect social security rights when moving within the EU, and the Derogation Agreement on determination of legislation applicable to Rhine boatmen concluded on the basis of Article 16(1) of the aforementioned Regulation.

According to this Derogation Agreement, the vessel operator’s seat is the deciding factor in determining which social security legislation applies to crew members in the industry. In this way, the coordination of social security in European IWT is presently regulated by two distinct systems: the Rhine and the EU systems.

Both systems share the same policy goal: to grant the same social protection and working conditions to those doing the same work at the same place. The experiences with the application of this principle in Rhine navigation in the last decades have been overwhelmingly positive. It delivers legal certainty in the application of legislation to the advantage of employers, crew members, national authorities and the control bodies. 

Social partners in inland navigation strongly support the Rhine principle and accordingly believe that the scope of this principle should not remain limited to crew members on vessels engaged in passenger and goods transport on the Rhine and its tributaries. We are convinced that its application to other European inland waterways would be highly beneficial and serve as an active barrier to abuse.

Seeing the growing internationalisation of crews and board personnel, it would also add to the attractiveness of employment in the industry, which is a major concern of the European Commission with regard to the NAIADES policy objectives.


The entire joint letter is available here.