Concluding negotiations over the past year, the Sectoral Social Partners in the maritime shipping industry - the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) and the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) - have reached an agreement to incorporate certain provisions of the ILO Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (ILO MLC 2006) into Community law.

The signature of the agreement concludes the negotiations they started on 29 September 2006, following a Communication on the strengthening of maritime labour standards adopted by the Commission on 15 June 2006 (COM(2006) 287 final).

Both ETF and ECSA have now requested the Commission to start working on a proposal for a Council decision through which the provisions contained in their agreement should be implemented at Community level.

The inclusion of certain provisions of the ILO MLC 2006 in the “acquis communautaire” by means of an EU directive will require all Member States to transpose the contents into their national legislation, thus rendering an internationally agreed instrument legally binding at EU level. In concluding their Agreement, the Social Partners stress the need to have labour standards applicable to all seafarers on board vessels.

To ensure a global level playing field, ETF and ECSA have also agreed that their agreement enters into force on the date that the ILO MLC 2006 enters into force.

The Commission welcomed the agreement and added that the procedure calls for legal analysis and conformity with EU law. It is possible that the Social Partners Agreement will be celebrated in late February 2008, preferably on the occasion of the 2nd anniversary of the Convention, in the presence of both Commissioners Vladimír Špidla and Jacques Barrot, respectively responsible for Employment and Transport.