Mobility and Transport


Public consultations

Public consultations

Public consultation on the fitness of EU legislation for maritime transport safety and efficiency
Consultation period: 

Published results

Consultation period

This consultation will last for 12 weeks. Questionnaires should be returned by 20 January 2017 at the very latest.

Target group

All citizens and organisations are welcome to contribute to this consultation.

The consultation can be of particular interest to passengers travelling by sea, national maritime authorities, shipowners, port and terminal operators, seafarers and their organisations, trade unions, maritime related European associations, third country Flag States, classification societies and other actors involved in maritime transport such as ships agents, pilots, VTS operators, etc.


The EU has one of the world's strictest regimes regarding maritime safety in and around EU waters covering the whole chain of responsibility. Amongst others, key parts of the EU Maritime Safety Framework are:

In addition there is EU legislation to promote the performance of maritime transport through simplification and streamlining of reporting formalities – Directive 2010/65/EU on reporting formalities – with a view to achieve a European Maritime Transport Space without Barriers, a concept which extends the Internal Market to intra-EU maritime transport. Underpinning both objectives is the Union Maritime Information and Exchange System, enabling efficient maritime transport and maritime traffic.

Seven years after the adoption of the third maritime safety package and the reporting formalities directive it is timely to reflect on the overall achievements and limitations of these European measures in the broader framework of the mid-term review of the 2009 EU's Maritime Transport Strategy.

Furthermore since 2009, several developments have affected the maritime sector. This has created new challenges for policy makers and market operators including the need to avoid that competition and fewer resources go to the detriment of safety and quality shipping and the essential necessity to boost efficiency through digitalisation and administrative simplification.

The Commission has therefore decided to conduct a Fitness Check of the related EU maritime legislation to identify any excessive burdens, inconsistencies and obsolete or (cost) ineffective measures in the policy area being considered. The individual legislative acts will be evaluated thoroughly. The overall fitness check will be complementary to show the full picture and a more strategic and global view by studying the interaction between the acts and assessing whether overall they allow achieving the above-mentioned objectives in the most cost-efficient way supporting growth and competitiveness.

In parallel to the fitness check, the maritime transport legislation related to the training of seafarers will undergo an evaluation under the Commission's Regulatory Fitness and Performance programme (REFIT) which aims to make EU law simpler, lighter, more efficient and less costly. The REFIT should ensure that the legislative framework is fit for purpose and that the objectives of maritime safety and promotion of seafarers' mobility by facilitating mutual recognition of their certificates are effectively fulfilled considering also the international context.

More information on the fitness check and the individual evaluations can be found in the following documents:

Objectives of the consultation

This Open Public Consultation has been launched to collect views and opinions on the legislative acts and their implementation and the interaction between them; to gather factual information on what works well and where there is room for improvement; and to collect data and knowledge about the impacts of the various acts individually and taken together.

The questionnaire is built in a way to allow the non-initiated audience to voice their views on the regulatory framework in place and the related limitations and achievements. The results of the public consultation will feed into the Commission's analysis which will also be based on targeted consultations and external studies.

Respondents are welcome to expand on their answers in the text boxes foreseen for this purpose. At the end of the questionnaire, it is also possible to upload supporting documents (e.g. position papers, statistics) to complement the contribution.

Professional stakeholders can express their interest in the questionnaire to be part of the targeted consultations that will be carried out in parallel for the individual evaluations. These targeted consultations will focus on specific technical, legal or regulatory items. They will also serve to collect specific data to support the Commission's analysis.

Structure of the questionnaire

The questionnaire consists of the following sections:

  • Section 1: Introduction
  • Section 2: About You
  • Section 3: Fitness check of maritime transport legislation for better safety and efficiencys
  • Section 4: Flag state responsibilities and accident investigation
    • A: Flag state responsibilities
    • B: Accident investigation
  • Section 5: Port state control
  • Section 6: Simplification and digitalisation of maritime transport
    • A: Reporting Formalities
    • B: Vessel Traffic Monitoring and Information System
  • Section 7: Maritime transport legislation for the training of seafarers
    • A: Directive 2008/106/EC on the minimum level of training of seafarers
    • B: Directive 2005/45/EC on the mutual recognition of seafarers' certificates issued by the Member States
  • Section 8: Document upload

Using the questionnaire

This questionnaire is available in English only. However, respondents are free to provide answers to open questions (and all other written contributions) in any of the official languages of the European Union. All contributions will have the same value independently of the language of the answer.

You can skip questions that you do not feel relevant for you or comfortable responding to. You can also pause at any time and continue later. Once you have submitted your answers, you will be able to download a copy of your completed questionnaire.

This questionnaire takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes to complete.

The system uses session "cookies" in order to ensure reliable communication between the client and the server. Therefore, your browser must be configured to accept "cookies". The cookies disappear once the session has been terminated.

The system uses local storage to save copies of your input to a survey, in order to have a backup if the server is not available during submission, or your computer is switched off accidentally, or any other cause. The local storage contains the IDs of the questions and the draft answers. Once you successfully submitted the survey to the server, or you have successfully saved a draft on the server, the data is removed from local storage. There is a checkbox above the survey "Save a backup on your local computer (disable if you are using a public/shared computer)" to disable the feature. In that case, no data will be stored on your computer.

See also: Help page for participants

Transparency and confidentiality

Please note that contributions received from this survey, together with the identity of the contributor, will be published on the European Commission's website, unless the contributor objects to publication of the personal data on the grounds that such publication would harm his or her legitimate interests. In this case, the contribution may be published in anonymous form.

Explanations about the protection of personal data

The policy on "protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Community institutions" is based on Regulation (EC) N° 45/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2000.

Important notice

As part of the European Transparency Initiative, organisations are invited to use the Register of interest representatives to provide the European Commission and the public at large with information about their objectives, funding and structures.

If you are not registered yet in this register, please visit:


Please note that this document has been drafted for information and consultation purposes only. It has not been adopted or in any way approved by the European Commission and should not be regarded as representative of the views of Commission staff. It does not in any way prejudge, or constitute the announcement of, any position on the part of the Commission on the issues covered. The European Commission does not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided, nor does it accept responsibility for any use made thereof.

Background information

Fitness check of maritime transport legislation for better safety and efficiency

EU maritime transport policy aims at ensuring the long-term performance of the European maritime transport system as a whole to the benefit of all other economic sectors and of the final consumer.

The present fitness check aims (a) to assess the existing comprehensive EU legislative framework on maritime safety and (b) to assess if there is room to increase the efficiency of maritime transport and maritime traffic through digitalisation and administrative simplification.

In accordance with international rules, EU legislation to ensure maritime transport safety and performance consists of rules and obligations applicable to Member States and operators:

  • Flag State responsibilities - the first line of defence (for ensuring vessels are fit for purpose in the first place),
  • Port State control - the second line of defence (carrying out verification checks on board on the spot),
  • Coastal State obligations under international law (supported by EMSA systems for ensuring vessel traffic monitoring and appropriate exchange of information between responsible authorities),
  • Reporting formalities from ships/ship masters to land based authorities for facilitation and reduction of administrative burden,
  • And, should an accident happen, accident investigation obligation (resulting in safety recommendations in the interest of further improving the regime and the effectiveness of applicable rules).

In relation to the objective to increase efficiency of maritime transport, emphasis is placed on enhancing the competitiveness of short sea shipping. Digitalisation is considered by the majority of maritime transport stakeholders crucial in simplifying administrative processes. Full EU harmonisation of reporting requirements and wider coverage of formalities are urged by the shipping industry.

The fitness check should indicate where there is room for a leaner and more effective maritime transport regulatory framework, for improving “fitness for purpose” and for promoting competitiveness and economic growth.

Flag State responsibilities and Accident investigation

Flag State

Under international law, any commercially trading vessel must be registered in a country and once registered is then entitled to fly the flag of that country (the flag then also determines the jurisdiction for a vessel) which becomes the flag State.

A Member State as flag State has to ensure that all applicable rules at international and EU level are adhered to before granting a ship the right to fly its flag, enter into its register of ships and start operating.

In order to support national flag administrations to effectively exercise their obligations, Directive 2009/21/EC requires Member States to develop, implement, certify and maintain a quality management system for the operational parts of the flag related activities. In order to ensure effective oversight and control over their fleet each Member States must keep, and have readily available (normally in a Flag State register) detailed information and records concerning ships flying their flag, including information on marine casualties. In accordance with the Directive, for verification purposes, each Member States as flag State must, since 2009 (The IMO Audit scheme was a voluntary scheme at the International level, until 1 January 2016 when it became mandatory for all Flag States in the world), undergo an Audit by the International Maritime Organisation and publish the outcome.

Flag States carry out inspections on their flagged ships only. For any other flag than the 'own' flag, a state (with ports) carry out Port State Control (reversely a state does not carry out Port State Control on their 'own' ships). In this way the inspections are complementary. However it is important to recognise that Flag States take the prime responsibility whether a vessel is fit for sailing while Port State Control makes spot checks to verify that the ship is fulfilling applicable requirements.

Accident investigation

Among the core obligations of a Flag State is the responsibility to carry out investigations after accidents. International law requires that countries affected by an accident at sea investigate the causes and propose ways of preventing recurrences in the future.

Directive 2009/18/EC establishing the fundamental principles governing the investigation of accidents in the maritime transport sector incorporates the principles contained in the IMO Code of International Standards and Recommended Practices for a Safety Investigation into a Marine Casualty or Marine Incident into EU law.

The Directive requires Member States to:

  • establish independent accident investigation bodies;
  • be notified of marine accidents and incidents – this obligation covers casualties and incidents that:
    • involve ships flying the flag of one of the Member States;
    • occur within Member States' territorial seas and internal waters;
    • involve other substantial interests of the Member States.
  • investigate accidents depending upon their severity;
  • publish investigation reports;
  • notify the Commission of marine casualties and incidents via a database (the European Marine Casualty Information Platform) established and maintained by the European Maritime Safety Agency.

Port State control

Port State Control (PSC) can be described as the inspection (based on risk-assessment) of foreign ships in EU ports for the purpose of verifying that

  • the competency of the master and officers on board,
  • the condition of a ship and its equipment, and
  • the on-board living and working conditions

comply with the requirements of international Conventions and that the vessel is manned and operated in compliance with applicable international law relating to maritime safety and pollution prevention.

The EU regime on PSC - Directive 2009/16/EC is based on the pre-existing structure of the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control (PMoU). The Commission and the European Maritime Safety Agency work closely with the PMoU. Actions taken by the Member States are complemented by an EU wide information system for targeting and reporting PSC inspections (the THETIS database).

Simplification and digitalisation of maritime transport

Simplification of administrative formalities and digitalisation of information are key priorities for creating the right framework conditions for maritime transport efficiency.

The Reporting Formalities Directive (RFD) and the Vessel Traffic Monitoring and Information System Directive (VTMIS) both contribute to the establishment of a maritime internal market – the European Maritime Transport Space without barriers – making intra-EU maritime transport efficient, safe, secure and sustainable and a viable and competitive alternative to other transport modes.

The RFD is a piece of harmonising legislation which cuts red tape. It does this by introducing horizontal facilitation instrument which introduces no new reporting obligations but aims to reduce the burden originating from existing international and EU legal reporting obligations in the areas of maritime transport and safety, customs, border control, security, environment and health, by a) simplifying information requirements and b) replacing paper submissions with harmonised digital submissions. The latter should be done through National Single Windows (NSW) with a 'reporting-once principle' at national level. Member States were obliged to establish the NSW by June 2015.

The VTMIS regulates vessel traffic monitoring and supports Member States in their role as Coastal States and in taking appropriate action should a vessel sailing in EU waters be involved in an incident or accident and in need of assistance and/or the situation requiring pollution response. The Directive also establishes the core electronic EU system/platform for maritime data and information sharing, linking together authorities from across Europe - the Union maritime Information and Exchange System, SafeSeaNet - hosted in the European Maritime Safety Agency.

Apart from enhancing maritime safety, port and maritime security, environmental protection and pollution preparedness, the same system allows for the exchange and sharing, in accordance with Union legislation, of additional information facilitating efficient maritime traffic (the vessels) and maritime transport (goods and persons on board (crew/passengers)).

The reporting-once principle is a key feature of both directives, in order to ensure that:

  1. Information required by law to be reported (from ship to shore/port) is reported into one place, the NSW, allowing all relevant national authorities (cross-sector) in that Member State to have access to the information required for the fulfillment of their function, without the need to request the same information several times from one and the same ship;
  2. Information can be exchanged between Member States (cross-border) and re-used, avoiding that the same information is requested again at the next EU port of call.

Furthermore the Commission approach is to avoid duplication of efforts and build on existing core EU systems/platform to reduce burden for both administrations and the industry.

Maritime transport legislation for the training of seafarers

The importance of training seafarers for the safety of life at sea and the protection of the marine environment has been recognised at EU level since the beginning of the 90's when the International Maritime Organization (IMO) International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW Convention) was incorporated into EU law.

Since then, the Union rules on seafarers' training have been amended several times, last in 2012, to bring them in line with the subsequent amendments to the STCW Convention.

The current Directive 2008/106/EC also contains a common EU mechanism for the EU wide recognition of the systems of maritime education, training and certification of seafarers of third countries. This mechanism ensures that seafarers holding certificates issued by non-EU countries and who are to be employed on board EU flagged vessels comply with the minimum standards established by the STCW Convention.

With the assistance of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), the Commission carries out a regular verification of compliance of the Member States and of EU recognised third countries (as regards the systems for maritime education, training and certification of seafarers) with the requirements of the Directive 2008/106/EC and STCW Convention, respectively.

EU legislation (Directive 2005/45/EC) has also been enacted to foster the professional mobility of seafarers within the EU by facilitating the mutual recognition of their certificates by Member States. In particular, Member States are required to recognise certificates issued by another Member State in accordance with the requirements of Directive 2008/106/EC

The REFIT evaluation of the two above mentioned Directives will assist the Commission to assess the actual performance of these interventions and to what extent they are fit for purpose.