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Sectoral social dialogue - Maritime transport

Social partners

Workers' organisations Employers' organisations
European Transport Workers' Federation (ETF) European Community Shipowners' Associations (ECSA)

Social dialogue in this sector covers the following activities (defined by NACE (Rev. 2) codes 50.1 and 50.2 as well as as part from code 52.2)

  • sea and coastal passenger and freight transport
  • support activities for maritime transportation.

The EU maritime transport sector employs some 230 000 people (Eurostat, Labour Force Survey data 2014).

European shipping accounts for over 40 % of the world’s fleet. The EU has some of the world’s largest maritime clusters.

90% of European exports and over 41 % of intra-EU trade are transported by boat.


The number of EU seafarers employed on EU-flagged ships has fallen rapidly in recent years, and only a minority of the world’s vessels now sail under EU-country flags.

EU regulation has opened up national markets to competition. Globalisation and the use of ‘open registers’ (in countries that are far more attractive to ship-owners than Europe in terms of tax, social legislation and safety and environmental standards), are serious challenges for the sector.

EU strategy

To meet these challenges, the EU has developed a global strategy to make the EU fleet more competitive.

The strategy includes ‘positive measures’ and improving on-board safety and environmental protection by enforcing international standards inside the EU, ensuring a level playing field for those carrying goods by sea between EU ports.

Key areas

The Committee is currently focusing on:

  • improving workers’ rights for seafarers
  • exploring the possibility of incorporating ILO Maritime Labour Convention amendments on abandonment, disability and death of seafarers into EU law
  • monitoring the Schengen visa system and security/seafarers’ ID
  • piracy
  • making the sector more attractive – improving on-board living and working conditions, better skills and training for seafarers
  • combating bullying and harassment
  • health and safety.

Activities and meetings

Check the library entries for this sectoral social dialogue committee.


  • 2016 - agreement on proposal to amend Directive 2009/17/EC on the Maritime Labour Convention
  • 2016 - denouncing the criminalisation of seafarers – joint delegation to meet Captain Apostolis Mangouras, Master of MV Prestige
  • 2016 - Zika virus – joint declaration on risks
  • 2016 - criminalisation of seafarers
  • 2016 - Prestige case
  • 2015 - Ebola virus  – joint declaration on risks
  • 2015 - proposal for a Regulation on the Union code on visas – joint statement
  • 2015 - maritime strategy mid-term review – joint position paper
  • 2015 - humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean sea – joint declaration
  • 2015 - administrative burdens for seafarers – joint declaration and action plan
  • 2014 - exclusion of seafarers – agreement leading to Directive 2015/1794 – joint press release
  • 2014 - piracy – joint position paper
  • 2014 - guidelines, training materials and awareness-raising video for a harassment- and bullying-free workplace in shipping
  • 2013 - maritime career path mapping update
  • 2012 - maritime piracy off the Somali coast – joint declaration
  • 2008 - agreement concluded by ECSA and ETF on the Maritime Labour Convention