Certain European Union (EU) Member States are struggling to meet their commitment to ratify international maritime conventions, according to a recent European Commission report on compliance with flag state requirements.
Despite good progress for many EU flag states, Bulgaria and Slovakia remain on the grey list of flag states in terms of the number of their ships detained, or the number of deficiencies detected on board, whilst being checked when in port. This means that the ships under these flags are not yet in the low risk ("white list") category — hence they need to be checked more often.
Current EU rules promote maritime safety and set a high standard for EU flag states by requiring them to undergo a peer review of their maritime administration and develop and implement a certified quality management system for their operations. Portugal, Ireland and all landlocked flag states except Luxembourg have failed to do so.
The report adds that Member States should increase their efforts to ratify and apply the Maritime Labour Convention on living and working conditions of seafarers and the newly adopted EU rules on compliance with and enforcement of the convention.
Vice-President Siim Kallas, EU transport commissioner, said: "I am heartened that most coastal Member States are taking their obligations seriously as flag states. However, I am particularly concerned to ensure that, for our seafarers, every Member State, as a flag state, has ratified and put in place the common standards for living and working conditions on board set out in the international Maritime Labour Convention of 2006, especially as these have been agreed between the social partners at European level and recently enforced through EU law."
The Commission indicates that it will reflect on further measures to ensure EU Member States effectively and consistently discharge their obligations as flag states, including possible infringement proceedings.