As Tim Springett, ECSA spokesperson on the Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee for Maritime Transport (SSDC), said:
For the shipping industry to function efficiently and for the safeguarding of decent living and working conditions for seafarers, it is essential to facilitate their movement into the EU to join ships, to be repatriated and to take shore leave without undue hindrance.
Mr. Springett added that despite the proposal recognises the specific needs of seafarers, ECSA is concerned about the new requirements for obtaining multiple entry visas (MEVs) and the link with readmission cooperation. Such a link could restrict seafarers’ ability to obtain MEVs. It would also raise obstacles to ships, as it will prevent them from making crew changes in EU ports.
In the same wavelength, Mark Dickinson, ETF spokesperson on the Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee for Maritime Transport noted:
Since the average length of seafarers’ contracts is eight months, the proposed requirement for obtaining MEVs is too strict and will be practically impossible for seafarers to fulfil. We consider it essential that the proposal is modified to avoid requirements that preclude the majority of seafarers from obtaining MEVs through the proposed‘cascade approach.
Merchant need to be sufficiently crewed at all times. Seafarers stay all over the world, and many of them work on ships that never call at ports in the countries where they live.
In addition, air travel to join ships and to return home after a tour of duty is an important part of many seafarers' lives, as they travel to ships to relieve colleagues who have finished their service, ECSA concluded.