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The directive sets up a harmonised system for recognising the qualifications of deck crew members working on European Union (EU) inland waterways, allowing these crew members to operate throughout the EU.
It aims to remove barriers to labour mobility, to improve safety, to develop the skills and employability of young people, to offer better career prospects to all crew members and to facilitate the transition of experienced workers from other sectors.
The directive introduces a harmonised system for the certification and recognition of professional qualifications of persons operating craft on inland waterways, allowing certificate holders to operate throughout the EU. This now includes the Rhine, which was excluded from Directive 91/672/EEC and Directive 96/50/EC, which this legislation repeals with effect from 17 January 2022 (see summary).
The system applies to all deck crew members, liquefied natural gas experts and passenger navigation experts working on passenger vessels and other craft more than 20 metres in length (as well as certain other specific types of vessels), except where navigation is for sport or leisure, or by the armed forces or emergency services.
EU certificates of qualification
The directive provides the following.
Deck crew members, persons qualified to take measures in emergency situations on board passenger vessels and persons involved in refuelling vessels operating on liquefied natural gas must have an EU certificate of qualification.
Boat-masters must have specific authorisations when they:
navigate on stretches of inland waterway with specific risks;
navigate on inland waterways with a maritime character;
navigate by radar;
operate vessels powered by liquefied natural gas;
sail in large convoys.
The directive sets out minimum requirements for age, administrative compliance, competence and navigation time for the different qualifications. It also requires all deck crew members to meet certain standards for medical fitness.
The directive takes account of the different characteristics of EU Member States by granting exemptions from some measures. This is the case in particular for Member States whose waterways are not connected to those of other Member States and where inland navigation is only seasonal or very limited. All other Member States with navigable inland waterways need to take the necessary measures to implement the certificate recognition system covered by the directive for these waterways.
EU certificates of qualification, service record books and logbooks issued by competent authorities are valid on all inland waterways in the EU. Certificates issued in accordance with the regulations for Rhine navigation personnel, which lay down requirements that are identical to those of the directive, are also valid on all EU waterways. Any non-EU country may apply to the European Commission for recognition of the certificates, service record books or logbooks issued by its authorities. Every 8 years, the Commission will review whether the non-EU country’s certification scheme conforms with this directive.
Each Member State should ensure that persons receiving certificates of qualification have the corresponding minimum levels of competence by carrying out an assessment. This could be an administrative examination or part of an approved training programme. The possibility of examination on simulators is also included in the directive.
Criteria for classification of some sections of inland waterways
The directive sets objective and transparent criteria for Member States to identify inland waterways with specific risks and for the classification of inland waterways with a maritime character.
Information exchange system
The directive provides for the setting up of an information system to facilitate the exchange of data on certificates of qualification, service record books and logbooks between the authorities in charge of the implementation and enforcement of the directive.
Directive (EU) 2017/2397 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2017 on the recognition of professional qualifications in inland navigation and repealing Council Directives 91/672/EEC and 96/50/EC (OJ L 345, 27.12.2017, pp. 53–86).
Successive amendments to Directive (EU) 2017/2397 were incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.
Commission Delegated Directive (EU) 2020/12 of 2 August 2019 supplementing Directive (EU) 2017/2397 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the standards for competences and corresponding knowledge and skills, for the practical examinations, for the approval of simulators and for medical fitness (OJ L 6, 10.1.2020, pp. 15–100).
Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/473 of 20 January 2020 supplementing Directive (EU) 2017/2397 of the European Parliament and of the Council with regard to the standards for databases for the Union certificates of qualification, service record books and logbooks (OJ L 100, 1.4.2020, pp. 1–11).
Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/182 of 14 January 2020 on models in the field of professional qualifications in inland navigation (OJ L 38, 11.2.2020, pp. 1–36).
Council Directive 2014/112/EU of 19 December 2014 implementing the European Agreement concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time in inland waterway transport, concluded by the European Barge Union (EBU), the European Skippers Organisation (ESO) and the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) (OJ L 367, 23.12.2014, pp. 86–95).
Directive 2008/106/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on the minimum level of training of seafarers (recast) (OJ L 323, 3.12.2008, pp. 33–61).
Council Directive 91/672/EEC of 16 December 1991 on the reciprocal recognition of national boatmasters’ certificates for the carriage of goods and passengers by inland waterway (OJ L 373, 31.12.1991, pp. 29–32).