The European Commission (EC) has proposed a new agreement between social partners to improve the working conditions of seafarers on-board European Union (EU) flagged vessels.
The proposal is expected to enhance protection for seafarers in cases of abandonment in foreign ports.
It will also reinforce seafarers’ rights to compensation in the event of death or long-term disability due to an occupational injury, illness or hazard.
EC Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility commissioner Marianne Thyssen said: “Maritime transport remains crucial for Europe's economic development.
“Today's proposal will strengthen seafarers' protection and underpin fair competition in the maritime sector. Improved working conditions will also make the shipping sector more attractive for young Europeans.
“This proposal is an excellent example of how social partners support the Commission in keeping EU law fit for purpose."
Diversity in shipping laws, as well as the nationality of owners and crews, have made it difficult for seafarers to receive fast and satisfactory redress in case of abandonment, injury or death.
EC’s latest proposal is seeking to address these issues and make improvements to the existing system.
It also aims to upgrade the mechanisms by which compensation is provided.
In 2006, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) adopted the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) in order to address issues presented by seafarers.
According to ILO, 192 merchant ships have been abandoned since 2004, 21 of which were EU-flagged vessels.
Last year, five merchant vessels and 58 seafarers were abandoned in EU ports.