Today, European maritime social partners ETF and ECSA met with European transport commissioner, Adina-Ioana Vălean. They discussed the most urgent issues of the industry as well as more long-term measures that can improve the lives of seafarers.
ETF welcomed Commissioner Vălean’s invitation to this meeting, as it shows a recognition of the importance of cooperation in finding pragmatic solutions for European seafarers.
The social partners first addressed the most pertinent issue of crew changes. ETF General Secretary Livia Spera and Head of Maritime Estelle Brentnall emphasised the fact that many governments in the EU and worldwide are now defining seafarers as “key workers”, but in practice, that is not enough. Additional practical measures and exemptions must be put in place that demonstrates that seafarers are key workers and facilitate their movement, in a way that protects their health and safety. The recognition that this is a crucial issue has come from the highest global authorities in the past weeks, and now is the time to focus on the national level and ensure that governments are putting in place measures that help crew changes. ETF counts on the crucial political support of the European Commission in this process and offers assistance with these efforts.
Participants of the meeting also discussed the results of a recent social study on maritime transport. The report points to several important aspects regarding seafarers’ rights enforcement and more structural issues. ETF believes that specific strategic orientations are needed to promote maritime employment in Europe and excellence in European shipping. Shipping policies need to be defined within the context of a broader socio-economic agenda, and this needs to be reflected in the future transport policy. “Business as usual” is not an option.
ETF looks forward to continuing these discussions more in-depth in the future, with the European Commission and through our established relationships with social partners.