Port organisations call on EU member states to enable crew changes

European Union Flag. Credit: European Union

The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) and the Federation of European Private Port Owners (FEPORT) have urged European Union (EU) member states to facilitate seafarer movements to and from vessels within their ports.

The ESPO and FEPORT highlighted that this can be achieved through the recently adopted European Commission’s Green Lanes concept. The concept, issued on 23 March, removes restrictions to transport workers who need to cross borders during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is “To ensure all freight, including but not limited to essential goods such as food and medical supplies, gets quickly to its destination without any delays,” explained the European Commission in a statement.

The industry organisations have also called on shipping lines to liaise with member states and airports to ensure the necessary flights home for crews can be arranged, both within the EU and to third party countries.

Further, European ports oppose a proposal put forward by the European Commission requesting that member states designate specific ports where crew changes are possible. “A top-down selection of certain ports for the purpose of crew changes might have serious impacts on some ports and port businesses and may unnecessarily disrupt a supply chain which is already under pressure,” commented Isabelle Ryckbost, secretary general of ESPO.

“If crew changes and transfers can be facilitated from and to one port in the country, they can be facilitated in all ports. This issue should be solved as quickly as possible, but must not lead to a top-down reshuffle of port calls in Europe. The Green Lanes concept, combined with a better coordination between member states is the most effective solution,” said Ryckbost.