The European Transport Workers' Federation (ETF) has called on the transport ministers of European Union member states to prioritise seafarers' needs in the run-up to Christmas.
In an open letter jointly signed by the ETF and the European Community Shipowners' Association (ECSA), ETF acting general secretary Livia Spera thanked transport ministers for their commitment over the past months enabling crew changes to occur in EU member states and urged them to ensure that national measures continue to facilitate crew changes, repatriation and medical assistance for seafarers.
The letter has also been copied to EU commissioner for health Stella Kyriakidou and commissioner for transport Adina Vălean in advance of an informal meeting on 8 December between the European Commission and Ministers of Transport.
Echoing Nautilus’s call for seafarers to be added to priority lists for Covid-19 vaccines, the letter also urges member states to prioritise seafarers within national vaccination strategies.
Martin Dorsman, secretary general of ECSA, and Ms Spera expressed concern in the letter that not all EU Member States have recognised seafarers as keyworkers. They call for the remainder to do so, and for all member states to exercise diplomatic influence with third countries to achieve this international recognition.
Ministers were reminded that the smooth facilitation of crew changes in the EU is still being obstructed by, amongst other things, the difficulties seafarers are facing in obtaining visas. Transport ministers were asked to continue to work with colleagues responsible for health and home affairs to ensure seafarers' travel to and from vessels and their right to medical attention are not restricted.
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