Visits to Member States
Verification of the implementation of the EU maritime safety and security legislation remains an essential task and the Agency. There are several reasons for verifying how this legislation is implemented in practice, including: detecting gaps in the overall safety system; promoting a harmonised approach across the European Union; and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the measures in place.
EMSA conducts visits to EU and EFTA Member States at the request of the European Commission and the EFTA Surveillance Authority respectively. Article 3.1 of Regulation (EC) No 1406/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 June 2002, as amended, establishing a European Maritime Safety Agency states:
'In order to perform the tasks entrusted to it and to assist the Commission in fulfilling its duties under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular the assessment of the effective implementation of relevant Union law, the Agency shall carry out visits to Member States in accordance with the methodology established by the Administrative Board'.
Visits are carried out in accordance with the applicable governing instruments established by its Administrative Board. Inspections are carried out on the basis of separate EU legal acts relating to the relevant area (standards for seafarers, maritime security, recognised organisations).
Visits and inspections are carried out by way of document reviews, verification of facilities, staff interviews and examining files on a sampling basis. A 'top-down' approach is applied throughout, beginning with the central competent authority, and then to designated authorities at national, regional and local authorities as well as other relevant institutions.
The formula of the visits and inspections depends on the area of activity. Three main types can be distinguished:
• MONITORING OF RECOGNISED ORGANISATIONS AND STANDARDS FOR SEAFARERS: The Commission has been entrusted with an assessment task by EU legislation and has delegated the conduct of inspections to the Agency: this is for example the case of the inspection of Recognised Organisations and of the inspection of the maritime education, training and certification systems for seafarers in third countries on behalf of the EU Member States (STCW).
• MARITIME SAFETY: The Commission has requested the Agency to verify the effective implementation by Member States of EU maritime legislative acts. These visits to Member States are carried out in accordance with Article 3 of its Founding Regulation and the visits policy that has been established by its Administrative Board.
• MARITIME SECURITY: In the field of maritime security the Agency has been given the task of assisting the Commission with its inspections of Member States under Regulation (EC) No 725/2004 on enhancing ship and port facility security. The Agency supports the Commission with the inspection of national administrations responsible for ship security, port facilities, ships, shipping companies and Recognised Security Organisations.