Designated crew change ports opposed

Two industry bodies have criticised the European Commission’s proposal requesting EU member states designate specific ports where crew changes are possible.

On 8 April, the Commission issued a communication requesting that member states designate ports where fast track crew changes can take place. However, ESPO and FEPORT said it is not feasible to restrict crew changes to only a select group of main ports and have urged member states to enable crew changes in all ports.

The organisations said pointed out that port calls are planned as part of a complex logistics chain and hinterland distribution. “European ports oppose the Commission proposal requesting Member States to designate specific ports where crew changes are possible.”

They added that berths in all ports will be needed to accommodate laid-up vessels, which also require the possibility of disembarking and embarking crew.

However, the organisations have called on member states to properly apply the EU Commission’s ‘Green Lane’ border crossings concept with its exemptions for transport workers to cross borders so that movements of ship crews and seafarers who need to embark on a vessel or return home can be facilitated and happen as smoothly as possible.

“A top-down selection of certain ports for the purpose of crew changes might have serious impacts on some ports and port businesses and may unnecessarily disrupt a supply chain which is already under pressure,” warned Isabelle Ryckbost, Secretary General ESPO.

“If crew changes and transfers can be facilitated from and to one port in the country, they can be facilitated in all ports. This issue should be solved as quickly as possible, but must not lead to a top-down reshuffle of port calls in Europe. The Green Lanes concept, combined with a better coordination between Member States is the most effective solution.”

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