Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Questions (87)

James Browne


87. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Transport the position regarding the need of a person (details supplied) for the recognition of a course completed in the UK; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8218/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Seafarers qualifications are provided for under the International Maritime Organization’s Convention on the Standards of Training and Certification and Watchkeeping, the STCW Convention. States which are a party to this convention may endorse certificates attesting recognition issued by other states in accordance with the procedures provided for in the Convention. In addition to the STCW Convention, EU legislation has provided for a wider range of recognitions amongst member states in accordance with Directive 2008/106, as amended. The United Kingdom left the European Union at the end of January 2020 and entered a transition phase which continued to apply EU legislation to the United Kingdom. The transition phase ended at midnight CET on the 31st of December 2020. On this basis EU Directives including those on mutual recognition ceased to apply to the United Kingdom from this time.

In preparation for the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union and the end of the transition phase the European Commission issued Brexit Preparedness Notices to advise of the implications including the impact on seafarers qualifications. My Department promulgated these by means of Marine Notices, the most recent Marine Notice Number 35 of 2020 was issued in August of last year. In particular, these Preparedness Notices explained the two types of recognition including recognition by acceptance and recognition by endorsement.

In relation to recognition by endorsement my Department has been actively engaged with ensuring the minimum amount of disruption to seafarers and shipping companies caused by the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union. On this basis, Ireland initiated the EU recognition process under the Directive on the 1st of January 2021 and my Department signed a memorandum of understanding with the United Kingdom in January 2021. These actions by Ireland have also initiated a wider process by the European Commission and it is anticipated that the European Maritime Safety Agency will be tasked to carry out an assessment of the United Kingdom to assess its implementation of the IMO STCW Convention.

It should be noted that in relation to those certificates which are subject to recognition by acceptance rather than recognition by endorsement the European Commission’s Brexit Preparedness Notice states “The certificates issued to seafarers by the United Kingdom are no longer “accepted” by an EU Member State under Article 5b of Directive 2008/106/EC after the end of the transition period. Thus, a master or an officer holding a certificate issued by the United Kingdom “accepted” by an EU Member State will not be able to continue working on board vessels flying the flag of that Member State after the end of the transition period.” Seafarers are advised to be guided by the Brexit Preparedness Notices issued by the European Commission and as published by my Department.

In this case it is noted from the information supplied that the candidate has attended a course after the end of the transition period which has been approved by the United Kingdom Authorities. As outlined above, the position in relation to such courses is set out in the European Commission’s Brexit Preparedness Notices and the candidate may wish to contact the relevant United Kingdom Authorities who may be able to provide guidance in relation to courses approved by them.