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Better working conditions for fishermen: Council approves agreement between social partners

Posted on October 17 2016

On 13 October the Council approved a directive which gives legal effect to an agreement between EU social partners (Cogeca, ETF and Europêche) in the maritime fisheries sector.

The social partners' agreement enables the ILO work in fishing Convention of 2007 to be applied within the EU.

The President of the Council, Mr Jan Richter, Slovak minister for Labour, Social Affairs and Family, said "This is an important step forward in helping improve the working and living conditions of fishermen and a truly excellent example of successful sectorial social dialogue. Today we have ensured that this work is enshrined in EU law, to the benefit of all fishermen across the EU."

The objective of the agreement is to ensure better working conditions for fishermen and decent work on board fishing vessels flying the flag of an EU member state flag, including outside EU waters. The directive covers minimum requirements for working hours and hours of rest for sea fishermen, conditions of service, occupational safety, protection for work-related sickness, procedures in the event of injury or death, medical care on board, payment of fishermen, accommodation and food.

This directive brings existing EU law into line with new provisions in the ILO Convention.


The International Labour Organisation (ILO) work in fishing Convention (C188) was adopted in 2007. It applies to all types of sea-going fishing vessels, regardless of their size, and aims to provide minimum standards to protect fishermen in their work.

In 2007, the Commission invited EU social partners to "examine the possibilities of a joint initiative to promote the application within the EU of the provisions of the Convention C 188".

In May 2013, the EU-level social partners - the European Transport Workers' Federation (ETF), the Association of National Organisations of Fishing Enterprises (Europêche) and the General Confederation of Agricultural Cooperatives in the EU (COGECA) - concluded an agreement. This was meant to merge the provisions from the EU acquis and the ILO Convention C188. They asked the Commission to transpose the agreement into EU law by means of a directive. On 28 April 2016, the Commission tabled its proposal for a directive to the Council.