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Ensuring EU countries comply with and enforce the Maritime Labour Convention

This European Union directive defines the responsibilities of flag states (countries where ships are registered) for enforcing the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) agreed in 2006 by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).


Directive 2013/54/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 2013 concerning certain flag state responsibilities for compliance with and enforcement of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006


The directive seeks to ensure that EU countries fulfil their obligations as flag states with respect to the implementation, by ships flying their flag, of relevant parts of Directive 2009/13/EC, which incorporated into EU law an important part of MLC 2006.

MLC 2006 sets out minimum global standards to ensure the right of all seafarers to decent living and working conditions, irrespective of their nationality and irrespective of the flag of the ships on which they serve. It also seeks to limit social dumping to secure fair competition for ship owners who respect seafarers’ rights.

The main points of the new directive are as follows.


Monitoring of compliance

EU countries have to introduce effective and appropriate enforcement and monitoring mechanisms, including inspections at specific intervals to ensure that seafarers' living and working conditions on ships flying their flag meet, and continue to meet, the requirements of MLC 2006.

These mechanisms may be adapted to take account of the specific conditions relating to ships of less than 200 gross tonnes not involved in international voyages. While remaining fully responsible for the inspection, EU countries may authorise organisations with specific expertise in the field (recognised organisations) to carry out such inspections.



Personnel authorised to carry out inspections and in charge of verifying the proper implementation must have the professional competence and independence necessary.

Where MLC 2006 standards are not being met, inspectors may prohibit a ship from leaving port until necessary actions are taken.


Complaint procedures

Each EU country must ensure that appropriate on-board complaint procedures are in place. Personnel dealing with, or who become aware of, complaints must treat the source of any grievance or complaint as confidential.

The responsibilities of port states for the enforcement of MLC 2006 are covered by Directive 2013/38/EU adopted in 2013.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2013/54/EU



OJ L 329 of 10.12.2013, p 1-4


Council Directive 2009/13/EC of 16 February 2009 implementing the Agreement concluded by the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) and the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) on the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, and amending Directive 1999/63/EC (Official Journal L 124 of 20 May 2009).

Directive 2013/38/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 August 2013 amending Directive 2009/16/EC on port State control (Official Journal L 218 of 14 August 2013).

last update 10.08.2014