Delegation of the European Union to the

UN and other international organisations in Geneva

Fourth Meeting of the Special Tripartite Committee - EU Opening Statement

Geneva, 19/04/2021 - 18:00, UNIQUE ID: 210421_4
Statements on behalf of the EU

Thank you Chair,

I speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

The Candidate Countries Turkey, the Republic of North Macedonia[1], Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania* align themselves with this statement.

  1. We welcome the fourth meeting of the Special Tripartite Committee since the entry into force of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 in 2013. The entry into force of this Convention was an important milestone in promoting decent living and working conditions for seafarers and fairer competition for shipowners worldwide. The MLC, 2006 is, however, not a static instrument and allows us to discuss its impact and address emerging issues at a regular basis, as we will do in this meeting.
  2. This meeting has gained additional significance, as demonstrated by how important the protection of seafarers’ labour rights is during the COVID-19 pandemic. An estimated 800 000 seafarers and their families have been impacted, jeopardising their health and livelihoods. Seafarers have been denied repatriation, medical assistance and shore leave. Many of them have had to work far beyond the duration of their contracts and sometimes even beyond the maximum duration of service as set out in the MLC, 2006, to the detriment of their health and safe navigation. International shipping and the two million seafarers working in the industry are key to ensuring the continued supply of goods, including energy, medical supplies and food.
  3. The European Union has quickly taken action to this end, recommending that seafarers are designated essential workers[2] and issuing guidelines on facilitating their free movement, their health and safety, as well as on crew changes and repatriation during the pandemic.[3]. We warmly welcome the initiatives taken by the Office, the Officers of the STC, international social partners, the International Maritime Organization and other UN agencies and programmes to address this situation. A coordinated international response is paramount. The EU and its Member States have been actively involved in the negotiations and supported the adoption of the UN General Assembly Resolution[4]and the ILO Resolution[5] in December 2020.
  4. In this regard, it is with great interest that we have read document submitted by the IMO Secretariat on the proposal to establish a tripartite ILO/IMO working group to address  seafarers’ issues.
  5. We also noted, with great interest, the World Maritime University’s report on rest and work hours and look forward to discussing the functioning and implementation of the MLC, 2006.
  6. We have supported the ILO’s work on the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 from the outset. Nearly all our Member States, including all those who are not landlocked, have ratified the Convention. Furthermore, the bulk of the MLC has also been implemented into EU law through a social partners’ agreement. The implementation and enforcement of the Convention’s rules are safeguarded through further EU legislation on flag State requirements and port State control. The EU and its Member States seek to achieve a level playing field in the maritime industry. We are therefore ready to support any efforts geared towards an effective and full implementation of the Convention.
  7. We look forward to the exchange of views with all of the members participating in this Committee, as well as a fruitful debate on the review of the proposed set of maritime-related international labour standards.

Thank you, Chair!


[1] *The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.


[3] C/2020/3100, Communication from the Commission Guidelines on protection of health, repatriation and travel arrangements for seafarers, passengers and other persons on board ships,



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