Social clause


ETF and Europêche-Cogeca adopt agreement and call European Commission and Council of the EU to guarantee smooth transposition of ILO Convention 188 into EU law

On Wednesday 8 May 2013, the workers’ organisation ETF[1] and the employers’ representatives of Europêche[2] and Cogeca[3] formally adopted a Social Partners’ Agreement (SPA) to transpose into EU law ILO Convention 188 (Work in Fishing Convention, 2007) that aims to provide worldwide access to decent working and living conditions for fishermen.

Towards social acquis in European fishing sector

By adopting this agreement, the European social partners contribute to the systematisation of the social acquis in the fishing sector with the aim to encourage Member States to ratify the Convention and complete a European and global level playing field on the matter. They also wish to give a strong signal to the governments and fishing sectors of ILO Member States from outside the EU, on the need to ratify the Convention as soon as possible. Moreover, once the Convention will have been transposed into EU law, infringements detected in EU ports and waters will be subject to the rule of the European Court of Justice.

The SPA is the result of negotiations that started in 2010 and were concluded in the Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee for Sea Fisheries meeting early this year. “This agreement shows the ability of the European Sectoral Social Dialogue to fully participate in the enactment of legally-binding EU regulation, provided that there is a strong commitment and a joint willingness to negotiate in a constructive atmosphere for the benefit of the workers, employers and the overall sector”, the social partners commented.

Tightened legal framework on working and living conditions

The agreement demonstrates a clear pledge of the European Social Partners in favour of enhanced working and living conditions of fishermen on board vessels flying EU flags and vessels calling at European ports, regardless their flag and the nationality of the crew. It comprises minimum requirements for working on board, conditions of service, accommodation and food, occupational safety and health protection, medical care and social security as defined in the ILO Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No 188). The agreement will in particular contribute to tighten the legal frame of those Member States whose legislation relating to the above-mentioned matters can be regarded as somewhat flawed.

Through the adoption of the SPA, the European social partners hope to encourage Member States to ratify the Convention, and give the EU an opportunity to have a crucial role in accelerating its entry into force, thereby ensuring that fishermen worldwide have access to decent working and living conditions.

In view of the importance of this initiative for ensuring decent standards in the fisheries sector, European Social Partners call on the European Commission and the Council of the EU to support their agreement by ensuring a smooth legislative process.

More extensive information on the agreement is available in the Q&A background note and letter to the European Commission.

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[1]The ETF represents more than 2.5 million transport workers from 243 transport unions and 41 European countries, in the following sectors: railways, road transport and logistics, maritime transport, inland waterways, civil aviation, ports & docks, tourism and fisheries.

[2]Europêche represents the catching sector in Europe. Currently, the Association comprises 16 national organisations of fishing enterprises from the following 10 EU Member States: BE, DE, DK, ES, FR, IT, MT, NL, PL, UK.

[3]Cogeca is the united voice of agricultural cooperatives in the EU. It also represents the interests of fisheries cooperatives in Europe through its FISH Working Party which it shares with Copa. Currently, the fisheries representatives come from the following 6 countries: DE, GR, IE, IT, MT, SI.