Recognition of COCs: IF ‘NO DEAL’ BREXIT


Local maritime stakeholders expect an “overarching framing notice” similar to that scenario in which the UK leaves the EU without agreement. But this ‘no deal’ posture is unlikely given the mutual interests of the UK and the EU in securing a negotiated outcome.

In parallel reality, the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) is looked up to give similar notices on the imminent danger of de-accreditation of the Philippines by the European Union (EU). This may be the result of the 10-year audit by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) on the Philippines finding shortfalls on policy, facility and reforms.


Just in case.

The British Government believes”… it’s our duty as a responsible government to prepare for all eventualities, including ‘no deal’, until we can be certain of the outcome of those negotiations.”

For two years, the government has been implementing a significant program of work to ensure the UK will be ready from Day 1 in all scenarios, including a potential ‘no deal’ outcome in March 2019.

A series of technical notices sets out information to allow businesses and citizens to understand what they would need to do in a ‘no deal’ scenario to make informed plans and preparations.

Likewise, MARINA may also outline the approach to dislocated Filipino seafarers on EU flagged vessels (sizeable by any count).

To date, the issue hangs as “final” deadline is set yet for 2019, plus the usual extensions as a diplomatic tradition.

There also seems over-reaction with the Philippine VCAP offering things not asked, i.e. an IT system in place to validate compliance.


The status quo.

At present, the international standards of training, certification and watchkeeping convention (STCW) mandates a crew member carrying out certain duties must have a certificate of competency (COC), renewed every 5 years.

A seafarer trained outside of the UK and working on a UK flagged vessel, must have a certificate of equivalent competency (CEC) issued by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). The CEC allows seafarers holding COCs issued by recognised non-UK countries (about 50) to work on board UK-registered merchant ships.


With ‘no deal’

Endorsements issued before withdrawal by EU countries to seafarers holding UK COCs would continue to be valid until they expire.

After exit, the rights and obligations placed on the UK as a signatory to the STCW convention would remain, including those for recognising certificates issued by third countries.

In the event of no deal, UK intends to:

  • Continue recognising all certificates currently recognised, including those issued by EU and EEA countries after exit
  • Seek third country recognition of UK certificates by the EU under the STCWconvention

EU countries that wish to continue accepting new UK COCs would need to write to the European Commission, per EC Directive 2008/106.


Diplomatic chess.

The Brexit negotiations are current between the United Kingdom and the European Union for the prospective withdrawal of UK from the EU, following the UK’s referendum on EU membership in June 2016.

The negotiating period began on 29 March 2017; on 19 June, British Brexit Secretary David Davis, arrived in Brussels to begin negotiations with EC Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier.

The scope could include the withdrawal agreement, a temporary transitional period agreement and another agreement for the post-transitional period.

Negotiation might also need to address Free Trade Agreement treaties between the European Union and its members (including the UK) for one part and third countries for the other part, and the tariff-rate quota, which might be split or renegotiated.