Beijing Law Review
2013. Vol.4, No.4, 141-146
Published Online December 2013 in SciRes (
Open Access 141
Adapting European Legislation to the Maritime Labour
Convention 2006 Regulations in Relation to the State
Responsibilities of Both the Flag State and
the Control of Ships by Port State Control
Sara Ruano Albertos, Arántzazu Vicente Pal a cio
Department of Labour Law and Social Security, Universitat Jaum e I, Castellón, Spain
Received January 4th, 2013; revised Febr ua ry 22nd, 2013; accepted March 8th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Sara Ruano Albertos, Arántzazu Vicente Palacio. This is an open access article distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction
in any medium, provided the original work is pro p erly cited.
The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006, which will come into force as of 20 August 2013, con-
templates a new system to guarantee its regulations are being applied by including Port State Control with
traditional Flag State control. The European Union has incorporated the MLC 2006 into its legislation
through an agreement reached with its European social agents, as a Directive, in virtue of Article 115 of
the Court of Justice of the European Commission. Thus fulfilment of the MLC 2006 has become com-
pulsory for all EU Member States. However, it has not yet been ratified and, besides, it is subjected to
certain community Port State and Flag State control mechanisms, which improve the optional character
with which they are contemplated in international regulations. This work briefly explains not only the
community acceptance process and its consequences, but also the effectiveness that the Port State con-
trol’s system, established in the community area, has had in 2011. The control of labour and social secu-
rity conditions will soon benefit from this effectiveness.
Keywords: Flag State; Governing Port State; Maritime Labour Conformity Statement; Maritime Labour
Certificate Port State Control MOUs; Directive 2009/13/EC; Directive 2009/16/EC
The Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (referred to as the
MLC 2006 henceforth) adopted on 23 February 2006 by the
International Labour Organization (ILO) during its 10th. Mari-
time Meeting with 314 votes in favour and no votes against, has
proved a major achievement as it has established unified regu-
lations in an attempt to guarantee decent living and working
conditions for seafarers. The very nature of ship transport and
the special conditions in which maritime labour takes place, to
which this sector’s economic circumstances have contributed,
which have led to the constant efforts made in cutting costs and
have doubtlessly had an effect on seafarers’ working conditions
(International Labour Organitation, 2001) required an instru-
ment that unifyingly and globally responds to the requirements
of a sector with a worldwide scope to guarantee decent working
conditions for seafarers.
Already existing maritime conventions and recommendations
have been reviewed and updated in this Convention, which
have been adopted by the ILO since 1920. It should be noted
that the ILO members which do not ratify the new MLC 2006
will be committed to former conventions which would have
been ratified, although these instruments would become invalid
in the light of new ratifications when the new Convention came
into being; that is to say, twelve months after their ratification
by 30 ILO members, whose fleets represent no less than 33% of
the deadweight tonnage of the world’s fleet. The following two
conditions have already been met: ratification by Russia and the
Philippines—in August 2012—determined the fulfilment of the
ratification requirement by at least 30 ILO member countries,
plus the requirement referring to the countries ratifying it rep-
resenting at least 33% of the gross tonnage of the world’s mer-
chant fleet for the year 2009; thus only the corresponding
12-month period having to pass would be necessary for it to
come into force.
In any case, this Convention, considered the fourth pillar
upon with the international regulate regime along with the
SOLAS, the STCW and the MARPOL Convention, meets three
relevant objectives: firstly, it establishes a series of principles
and rights, as laid down in the Articles and Regulations; sec-
ondly, it confers Member States a considerable degree of flexi-
bility as to the way they apply these principles and rights
through the Code; thirdly, it ensures that the application and the
control of the application of these principles and rights are
adequately carried out.
The MLC 2006 establishes a series of regulations on: the
minimum requirements to be able to work onboard a ship (Title
1); conditions of employment (Title 2); conditions of accom-
modation, recreation facilities, food and catering (Title 3); con-
ditions to protect health (FOTINOPOULOU BASURKO, 2001)
(Title 4). Although all these requirements and conditions are
relevant, they will not be so important in practice if there is no
suitable system available to control their application and fulfil-
ment, such as the provisions set out in Title 5: The system to
control the application of rules as a basic pillar of the effec-
tiveness of the convention; hence, the importance of the Flag
State inspecting and approving the working and living condi-
tions of seafarers is stressed because the Flag State is responsi-
ble for verifying that the maritime labour requirements are ap-
plied, as laid down in the MLC 2006; and also hence the im-
portance of the inspections conducted by the Port State Control
given their aim to ensure that that laid down in the Convention
is fulfilled.
The Maritime Labour Convention 2006: The
Inspection System by the Flag State and Control
Inspections by the Port State Control
It is the responsibility of the Flag State to verify that ships
comply with MLC 2006 requirements, and it is in charge of
issuing the Maritime Labour Certificate (Regulation A5.1.3) as
far as meeting the requirements corresponding to the fourteen
aspects relating to the working and living conditions of seafar-
ers, as set out in Title 5, Annexe A5-I, is concerned. Yet not all
ships must be compulsorily certified, but only those whose
gross tonnage is equal or over 500 tons, which travel on inter-
national journeys, or those ships whose gross tonnage is equal
to or over 500 tons which sail under the flag of a country and
operate from one port, or between the ports, of another country.
Therefore, this obligation does not apply to those ships whose
gross tonnage is under 500 tons or to those which do not travel
on international journeys and do not operate from one port, or
between the ports, of another country. Yet even so, the Port
State Control should verify the fulfilment of these requirements
applicable to certified ships in any case, even when they have
not been issued a Maritime Labour Certificate or a Maritime
Labour Conformity Statement. A shipowner can voluntarily
request that a ship is certified even though the certificate is not
compulso ry for that sh ip.
The Maritime Labour Certificate is complemented with the
Maritime Labour Conformity Statement, which comprises two
parts: Part I, issued by the Port State Control and refers to the
national legislation to which an agreed list of fourteen aspects is
applied that must be the object of certification (RUANO AL-
BERTOS, 2009); Part II establishes the shipowner’s or opera-
tor’s plan to guarantee that the regulations are respected on-
board the ship among the various inspections made.
Furthermore, it should be taken into account that the docu-
ments which the Port State Control issues can also be issued by
an organisation that has been recognised by and is authorised to
act on its behalf. Indeed, Regulation 5.1.1, Paragraph 3, of the
MLC 2006 allows public institutions and other recognised
competent, independent organisations to be authorised by a Port
State Control to conduct inspections or to issue certificates, or
both, on its behalf. Regulation A5.1.2 specifies the require-
ments that the Port State Controls which wishes to name public
institutions or other organisations have to apply in order to
conduct inspections as set out in the MLC 2006; they must
provide the International Labour Organization (ILO) with an
up-to-date list of all the authorisations granted to recognized
For the purpose of helping fulfil the obligations laid down in
the Port State Control in accordance with that set out in the
MLC 2006, the ILO has published a series of Guidelines (In-
ternational Labour Organization, 2009), which stress the im-
portance of Flag State Control (or its competent authority) in
preparing a series of documents, provided, evidently, that they
do not already exist. Hence in relation to the ship’s certification,
a national version of the form known as the Maritime Labour
Certificate must be prepared and the two parts of the Maritime
Labour Conformity Statement must be written. Moreover, the
Maritime Labour Convention foresees other standard format
documents: that which describes the working organisation on-
board the ship; a medical certificate and a standard onboard
medical report form. Furthermore, a system that registers in-
spection reports should also be set up.
Among the Port State Control’s responsibilities, the follow-
ing should also be stressed given their importance: receiving
and investigating complaints, and adopting suitable control
measures; procedures to receive and respond to complains must
be set up, with confidentiality guaranteed. Consequently, prior
to issuing or countersigning a certificate or authorising a ship to
sail, the Port State Control inspector should have confirmation
that all the shortcomings identified during the inspection have
been rectified or that the shipowner has provided a plan of ac-
tion to correct them, which must be approved by the inspector.
Port State Control civil servants must also help ensure decent
working conditions for seafarers, in such a way that all the
ships to which the MLC 2006 applies, irrespectively of their
size, and which make ports of call in foreign ports of Member
States that have ratified this Convention, may be the object of
inspection (International Labour Organitation, 2009). In fact,
the Member States that ratify the MLC 2006 are responsible for
conducting control inspections by the Port State in the foreign
ships found in their ports through either their own initiative or a
complaint. Moreover, an inspection in a foreign port is applica-
ble even for ships sailing under the flag of a country that has
not ratified the MLC 2006 because the Convention itself
obliges Member States that have ratified it to not favourably
treat ships sailing under the flag of those Member States that
have not ratified it (principle of no more favourable treatment).
This means they may be subjected to a more detailed inspection
because the ships are not certified.
In short, the intention here is to determine whether the in-
spected ship complies with that set out in the MLC 2006 on the
living and working conditions of seafarers onboard the ship in
question. In principle, these inspections will refer to the four-
teen requirements relating to the onboard living and working
conditions, whose certification should have already been issued
by the Flag States that have ratified the MLC 2006, which ba-
sically obliges them to certify. In such cases, the Maritime La-
bour Certificate and the Maritime Labour Conformity State-
ment must be the starting point of the inspection as they are
considered sufficient proof that requirements are met, unless
there is proof otherwise. If the ship does not sail under the flag
of a Member State which has ratified the Convention, it could
be subject to a more detailed inspection.
Although the MLC 2006 does not specify inspections in
compulsory terms, which are merely optional, it expects the
Port State inspection and control system to be efficient in
checking whether the Convention’s aims are being met. It even
expects that the reports to be presented by virtue of Art. 22 of
the ILO Constitution include information about this system, and
even the method to evaluate its efficacy. Although it does not
infer its compulsoriness, it expects genuine willingness for the
Open Access
control system to be fulfilled. The fact that it is not compulsory
can prove a serious impediment for its effectiveness, unless
other sources of regulations exist that derive from other appli-
cations establishing this compulsoriness; this occurs in, for
example, the European Union, as indicated below.
Along with the aforementioned obligations, Port State Con-
trol civil servants are in charge of the proceedings and the in-
vestigation of the complaints presented by seafarers on board
the ships visiting their ports.
All in all, any identified shortcomings should be pointed out
to the ship’s captain and a deadline date for their rectification
shall be indicated. If these shortcomings are considered impor-
tant, they shall be made known to the seafarers’ and shipown-
ers’ associations in the Port State (VICENTE PALACIO, 2009)
in which the inspection was done. The intention here is to avoid
that ships are improperly immobolised or delayed. This allows
the ship to sail provided that the shortcomings have been recti-
fied, unless the onboard conditions clearly prove to be a risk for
seafarers’ health and safety; or should the detected shortcoming
or shortcomings in conformity prove to be a serious or recurrent
offence of that laid down in the Convention. Recurrent offences
could be a sufficient reason to immobilise a ship.
European Union Regulations on Flag State
Responsibilities and on the Port State’s
Control of Ships
The European Union has not ignored (EUROPEAN PAR-
LIAMENT, 2010) the need for a unified and global set of regu-
lations that ensure decent living and working conditions for
seafarers, and bearing in mind that these minimum unified and
global regulations not only improve the living and working
conditions of seafarers, but also allow fairer conditions in the
maritime sector (VICENTE PALACIO, 2009).
In line with this, after approving the MLC 2006, the Euro-
MITTEE, 2006) became aware of the convenience of immedi-
ate ratification by its Member States, which led it to adopt
Council Decision 2007/431/EC, of 7 June, with which Member
States are authorised to ratify, in the interest of the European
Community, the aforementioned MLC 2006. It also indicates
that this was to be before 31 December, 2010, if possible (DO
L.161, of 22 June, 2007)
Indeed in 2007, the European Commission (EUROPEAN
COMMISION, 2007) had already proposed a comprehensive
maritime policy to help improve Europe’s capacity to face
challenges of a globalisation and competitiveness kind by con-
sidering combined efforts to be made by all the parties involved
in the maritime sector necessary in order to improve policies
relating to the personnel and working conditions by establish-
ing an efficient regulatory framework that would consider the
international context. Thus the Commission fully backed the
social dialogue that was underway on incorporating the MLC
2006 into Community Law, which resulted in the Agreement
between the European Community Shipowners Associations
(ECSA) and the European Transport Workers Federation
(ETWF) on the MLC 2006 being adopted. By following a
Community Law procedure to convert the agreements resulting
from community social dialogue into community regulations
(Treaty Art. 115), Council Directive 2009/13/EC, of 16 Febru-
ary 2009, was adopted. It incorporates practically all minimum
requiriments, working conditions, provisions on accommoda-
tion, installations, and provisions on board complaints proce-
dures the 2006 MLC provisions into Community Directive
2009/13/EC, which shall come into force simultaneously when
the MLC 2006 does—that is, on 20 August 2013—and it shall
allow a 12-month period after it comes into force for Member
States to implement their contents to Domestic Law. The only
matters that it does not cover are those relating to salaries, so-
cial security (because the latter is beyond the European Union’s
competence, except for coordination matters) and establishing
control mechanisms for both Flag States and Port States, which
remain beyond the competence of social agents, these being the
true developers of community law.
The regulatory role that the European Union plays in mari-
time transport matters dates well back in the past and is based
on seeking mechanisms to ensure the effectiveness of the In-
ternational Maritime Organization’s (IMO) international regu-
lations in order to reinforce international regulations within the
ever more effective community code. We should bear in mind
that not even regional Agreements on Port State control—en-
dorsed by the proposal of IMO itself (Resolution A.682 (17))
can ensure a level of efficacy for fulfilling these international
regulations because its foresights do not establish legal oblige-
tions for members. Otherwise, they are generally limited to the
IMO’s own Agreements, and then only in very isolated cases
(Paris-MOU and Tokyo-MOU), and are extremely limited to
some ILO Agreement, specifically Convention no. 147 (1976)
on minimum regulations on social security matters. Indeed,
these regional Agreements do not specify any rules or proce-
dures, be it in various ways, to ensure that norms on navigation
security and safety are actually fulfilled by State Signatories,
and that they are generally dedicated to overall or individual,
yet poorly ambitious, inspection commitments; for instance,
Viña del Mar-MOU and the Mediterranean-MOU, whose indi-
vidual inspection objective establishes 20% of the ships reach-
ing State Signatories’ ports for each Member State. The To-
kyo-MOU is considerably more ambitious as it sets an overall
objective for all the State Signatories in the Agreement of 80%
of the ships reaching ports. The Committee created by the To-
kyo-MOU has established inspection quotas for all members.
However, doubtlessly the most ambitious Agreement is the
Paris-MOU, which resulted from the tight connections between
the Paris-MOU expectations and community regulations, which
we will look at later. These community expectations are genu-
ine obligations for Member States, without them being also
conditioned to ratifying international Conventions whose com-
pliance is stated. All in all, community intervention in relation
to the obligations of both Flag States and Port States address
certain limited socio-occupational questions, as only set out
specifically in the ILO Convention no. 147 on minimum regu-
lations for social security matters (1976) and in its 1996 Proto-
Flag State Control: The New Directive Proposal for
the Control of Applying the Obligations Deriving
from Directive 2009/13/EC
Indeed, in relation to the Flag State’s obligations, the Euro-
pean Union adopted Directive 2009/21/EC of the European
Parliament and Council, of 23 April 2009, on the fulfilment of
Flag State’s obligations, was adopted (DO L 131 of 28 May
2009) for two purposes: on the one hand, the intention was to
guarantee that Member States efficiently and coherently com-
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plied with their obligations as the Flag States that they are; on
the other hand, the aim was to improve maritime safety and to
avoid pollution from ships sailing under Flag Member States.
In short, the objective was none other than Member States ful-
filling their obligations as Flag States in accordance with IMO
conventions. Nevertheless, this Directive did not respond to the
specific responsibilities that the Flag Member State must bear
in terms of controlling compliance with that laid down by Di-
rective 2009/13/EC which, as indicated, includes certain MLC
2006 regulations; thus it has been necessary to update the regu-
lations on Flag State Control on the verification and control of
the requirements set out by the MLC 2006. There is no doubt
whatsoever that the Flag State is obliged to ensure that its ships
comply with international regulations and, in this case, that the
parts of the MLC 2006, which is incorporated into community
regulations by means of Directive 2009/13/EC, are met. To this
end, a Directive is proposed—Proposal of the European Parlia-
ment and Council Directive COM (2012) 134, FINAL, which
complements Directive 2009/21/EC, and which ensures that EU
Flag States shoulder their responsibilities as far as applying and
observing the cited Directive 2009/13/EC are concerned. The
EU has decided to make arrangements to control the Flag State
responsibilities deriving from Directive 2009/13/CE autono-
mously to controlling those aspects relating to the technical
aspects of navigation safety, as set out in Directive 2009/21/EC,
which has no list of obligations that the Flag State must comply
to, but refers to all IMO procedures. This autonomous rule has
two major consequences:
1) Firstly, the proposed Directive has not included the certi-
fication system set out in the MLC 2006 in the Community
Law domain for the purpose expressly set out, that of avoiding
a new tier of regulations for Member States in order to, there-
fore, maintain the certification system in the International Law
domain. The scope of this proposal is much more limited: it
only establishes regulations so that Member States fulfil their
obligations as Flag States insofar as supervising that Directive
2009/13/EC is fulfilled. These obligations are specified in the
demand of the obligation that guarantees the establishment of
suitable supervision controls and mechanisms, and performing
effective and adequate inspections to ensure that onboard
working conditions under the flag of a country comply with the
requirements set out in Directive 2009/13/EC. Therefore, the
Directive proposal does not impose the certification obligation
set out in the MLC 2006: despite effective and suitable inspec-
tions having to be conducted, they do not necessarily finish in
issuing an MLC 2006 certificate.
2) Secondly, there is no exact identity available in the area
where the Directive Proposal and the MLC 2006 under study
actually apply. Therefore, the obligations deriving from Direc-
tive 2009/13/EC—and therefore, control—apply to all the pub-
lic and private ships that normally undertake commercial ac-
tivities, without being restricted to those ships to which the
certification obligation set out in the MLC 2006 applies.
Port State Control: The New Certificates Set out in
the MLC 2006 Are Included in Directive 2009/16/EC.
Analysing the Effect iveness of the Control Exerted by
the Port State as Set out in Directive 2009/16/EC in
the Light of the 2011 Statistics
If, as indicated, the Flag State assumes a relevant role in con-
trolling that the MLC 2006 regulations are indeed applied, then
it is worth remembering the important task, involved in their
fulfillment, carried out by the governing Port State.
In the community setting, Directive 2009/16/EC, on the gov-
erning Port State’s control of ships, reinforces the fulfilment of
international legislation and European Union legislation on
maritime safety, maritime protection, environmental marine
protection, and the onboard working and living conditions of
any Flag State’s ships; it also sets out common criteria for the
governing Port State to inspect ships. In fact, the Paris-MOU
came into force as of 1 July 1982 to facilitate the inspections of
those ships sailing under foreign flags by governing Port States
in order to verify that they meet the regulations included in the
various international instruments by setting the frequency of
these inspections in terms of their risk profile, and by submit-
ting those ships at greater risk to more detailed inspections
Community regulations—in agreement with that set out in the
Paris-MOU, but improving it by converting its objectives into
obligations for State Members—establish the aforementioned
ambitious inspection objective: firstly, when inspecting all
ships assigned a Priority I index, as set out in Letter a) of Art.
12 of the Directive; secondly, an annual fee for all the ship
inspections assigned Priority Indices I and II made must be paid,
as set out in Art. 12, Letters a) and b). This is at least the
equivalent of the corresponding fee of the total number of in-
spections made each year in the Community and in the
Paris-MOU region. The inspection quota is attributed to Mem-
ber States and is based on the ratio between the number of ships
docking in State Members’ ports and each Member State of the
Community and the Paris-MOU region.
The MLC 2006 is to imminently come into force, particu-
larly Directive 2009/13/EC, which includes most MLC 2006
contents, and which will convert it into a compulsory measure
for all Member States, irrespectively of them having ratified, or
not, the MLC 2006. To this end, Directive 2009/16/EC, on Port
State control, had to be updated for it to be in keeping with the
new documents and agreements that the MLC 2006 incorpo-
rates. In line with this, a Directive proposal—COM (2012), 129
FINAL—is being processed which specifically states, in rela-
tion to the documents created for the MLC 2006, that inspectors
should verify by their inspections that ships have the Maritime
Labour Certificate and the Maritime Labour Conformity State-
ment. Likewise, the in- spections domain is extended, and a
procedure for complaints has been set up, which has to be fol-
lowed for any complaint relating to any matter covered by the
MLC 2006.
Along this line, what the Directive Proposal intends is to not
change the current claims system already set up for Directive
2009/16/EC, rather it is complemented by a suitable complaints
procedure for MLC 2006-relatd complaint. In order to ensure
uniform conditions for this procedure to be applied, the Com-
mission will also be responsible for the execution competences
that relate with not only setting up a harmonised electronic
format to present and follow-up claims by State Port authorities,
but also with a procedure to notify the follow-up measures
taken by Member State s.
This is doubtlessly a major advance for the effectiveness of
the MLC 2006 in the community domain. Firstly because the
material or fundamental obligations foreseen in the MLC 2006
will be compulsory for all Member States when it comes into
force, irrespectively of them having ratified the MLC 2006 or
not, as regulations are now included in community heritage,
whose fulfillment will become compulsory for all Member
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States. Secondly, and fundamentally, because the control ac-
complished from complying these rules also applies to the
community domain and with the same range of compulsoriness
that derives from any community regulation—a Directive in
this case and in specific Port State control mechanisms terms. It
also implies a substantial improvement of its effectiveness
given that high levels of effectiveness derive from Member
States having to fulfil obligations in the inspection matters set
out in Directive 2009/16/EC. Indeed, available data (COM-
MISION, 2012) reveal that, in general, the inspection commit-
ments deriving from Directive 2009/16/EC have been fulfilled
for the year 2011 in terms of both priority I ships [Art. 5.1. a)
relating to the specific regulations of Art. 6] and the inspection
quotas set out in Art. 5.1. b), with very few exceptions. This
same level of efficacy is expected to continue in the future
when Port State control also accomplishes the working condi-
tions set out in the MLC 2006.
Indeed, this Report indicates, in relation to applying Art. 6.1
in Directive 2009/16/EC in 2011, that twelve (of the 22) EU
Member States—Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Cyprus, Malta,
The Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Finland, Swe-
den and the United Kingdom, also aplicable to Croatia, Iceland,
Norway and Russia found themselves in this situation. As
shown in the table (Figure 1), which indicates the commitment
and number of inspections made by Member States to which
Article 6 applies, the levels are highly satisfactory: for Priority I
ships, the overall percentage reached is 67.59%, while this per-
centage for the inspections made of Priority II ships is 94.70%
of the global inspection quota.
For those ships included in the special system set out in Art.
7.2 (underload status), the Figure below (Figure 2) shows the
commitment and number of inspections made by these “under-
loaded” Member States, from which it is deduced that these
Member States made Priority I inspections, as expected given
the commitment, and that almost all of them made the required
number of priority II inspections.
Finally for overloaded ships, the higher level of failure to
fulfil the Priority I ships inspection commitment is observed
(Figure 3).
Nonetheless, the evaluation of the above data must be related
with the high levels of demand deriving from community regu-
Figure 1.
Commitment and number of inspection made by Member States (art. 6).
Source: Commision t o the European Parliament a n d C ouncil (2012).
Figure 2.
Commitment and number of inspections made by “underloaded
Member States. Source: Commision to the European Parliament and
Council (2012).
Figure 3.
Commitment and number of inspections made by “overloaded” Mem-
ber States. Source: Commision to the European Parliament and Council
lations, these being much higher than those expected of other
regional Agreements. By way of example, and not based on the
data available of the number of stops that ships made in the
ports included in the region where the Viña del Mar-MOU ap-
plies, 8584 inspections were made in 2010 (ACUERDO LA-
TINO, 2010). This number is considerably less than the 16,425
inspections made in the Paris-MOU region, despite the broad
geographic area to which this Agreement applies (Argentina,
Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Honduras,
Mexico, Panama, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela). Likewise in
ASIA-PACIFIC REGION, 2011) the inspection rate is lower
than that of Europe, 68% (23,268 inspections for 28,627 dock-
ings) (it comprises the following State Signatories: Australia,
Canada, Chile, China, Fiji, Hong Kong (China)), Indonesia,
Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New
Guinea, the Philippines, the Russian Federation, Singapore,
Solomon Islands, Thailand, Vanuatu and Vie tnam. For the Port
State control carried out in the United States, the inspection
rates are also considerably lower, barely reaching 24.08% with
19,038 inspections for 79,031 port dockings (UNITED STA-
TES COAST GUARD, 2011). At any rate, it is necessary to
insist that the current community system since Directive
2009/16/EC—and the Paris-MOU domain, present added value
for not only some greater quantitative inspection commitments
than those deriving from any of the cited regional Agreements,
but also given its distinct nature as it uses a mixed criterion to
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Open Access
select inspectionable ships, unlike the cited agreements which,
at best, although establish, and indeed approach good, ambi-
tious inspection levels, their selection criteria are merely quan-
The MLC 2006 lays down unified regulations to accomplish
better living and working conditions of seafarers. Establishing
these minimum regulations, and the impact of them not being
met will contribute to fairer maritime sector competences.
Doubtlessly, one of the most relevant aspects of the Convention
lies in establishing suitable mechanisms to control that regula-
tions are being effectively applied. Controlling that Flag Mem-
ber States are applying regulations, are conducting the corre-
sponding ships inspections and are certifying the fulfilment of
that laid down in the Convention, is a major step towards effec-
tively improving working conditions. In parallel, the controls
carried out by governing Port States are absolutely necessary to
guarantee that these working conditions apply. All in all, the
lack of compulsoriness in governing Port States establishing
inspection quotas may determine a lower level of efficacy than
that desired. Thus it would be desirable that the various MOUs
for Port State control also i ntegrate the new documents that the
MLC 2006 is to establish among the expected certificates. In
line with this, the European Union is currently in a very ad-
vanced stage, and is doubtlessly the maritime region that has
best developed in such matters thanks to: the incorporation of
community heritage, with the characteristic level of compul-
soriness deriving from its regulations; practically all the MLC
2006 content; the mechanisms of control by the Flag State and,
above all, by the Port State. In this way, practically the whole
MLC 2006 will oblige Community States as Flag States, even
though they have not ratified it, to have accepted the certifica-
tion obligation, which is doubtlessly a lost opportunity to have
achieved the highest possible level of regulatory effectiveness
in a matter that is a priority objective for the EU. Moreover, the
system of Port State control, established by community regula-
tions, will also extend the control of the working conditions
foreseen in the MLC 2006 by demanding those ships docking
in its ports to comply with the certification system deriving
from the MLC 2006. As it is a system that makes the fulfilment
of high quotas compulsory, unlike the rest of the indicated ad-
ministrative agreements, it will have a bearing on better MLC
2006 implementation in this geographical area by definitively
improving shipping working conditions on a worldwide scale,
and by re-establishing equitable competence conditions.
This work was conducted under the research project “Trans-
formations of Labour and Social Security to the European and
global crises” funded by Bancaja (2012-14) and “The interna-
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