(File photo)

MANILA – The European Union Delegation in Manila on Thursday reminded the Philippines to submit its formal reply over the deficiencies found by the bloc in its seafarer training standards on or before March 10.

The reminder came days after a recent meeting between the Philippine authorities and European Commission Director-General for Mobility and Transport Henrik Hololei in Brussels on February 8.

EU Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Véron, who attended the meeting, said: “While Director-General Hololei was grateful to Vice-Admiral Empedrad for meeting informally in Brussels and for his oral presentation, he made clear that the Commission’s assessment would solely be based on the written reply to the Commission notification, to be provided no later than 10 March 2022."

Echoing Hololei, the envoy, said this formal reply should contain concrete evidence of the measures already taken by Philippine authorities to ensure compliance with the country’s obligations under the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) Convention.

The meeting took place at the request of the Philippine side and served as an opportunity to clarify EU's procedures and expectations following the transmission of the notification letter on Dec. 20, 2021.

During the meeting, the Commission explained to the Philippines delegation the procedure to be followed as well as the next steps following the country’s reply.

"The Commission provided concrete examples on what it expects to receive in the Philippines reply. Lastly, the Commission encouraged the Philippines to enhance their efforts to comply with the STCW Convention,” the EU said.

The Philippine delegation includes several Filipino government officials, including Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) Administrator Robert Empedrad.

The Commission in December 2021 notified the Philippines of a number of deficiencies in its seafarers’ education system, which fails to guarantee that the requirements of the STCW Convention are met.

Inconsistencies were found in the monitoring of inspections and evaluations of the schools, including "concerning findings" on simulators and on-board training, among others.

The country must submit its written reply on or before March 10, which will then be assessed by the Commission with the assistance of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).

In case of a negative assessment, the EU would eventually withdraw the recognition of Philippine-issued STCW certificates for masters and officers -- a decision that would be cascaded to its 27 member-states. (PNA)