CESNI meeting in Prague on 8 November 2018


Prague, 8 November 2018 – The European Committee for drawing up Standards in the field of Inland Navigation (CESNI) met in Prague on Thursday 8 November 2018 in grateful response to an invitation from the Ministry of Transport of the Czech Republic. The outcome of this Committee meeting was considerable: for the first time, 14 standards in the field of professional qualifications, or “Prague Standards” were adopted. The Committee also adopted the new European standard laying down technical requirements for inland navigation vessels – ES-TRIN 2019/1 – which replaces the 2017 edition. The Committee also set itself new ambitious targets by adopting its 2019-2021 work programme and setting up a new permanent working group in the information technologies field.

10 Member States (AT, BE, CH, CZ, DE, FR, LUX, NL, RO, SK) and one Observer State (UKR), as well as the European Commission, the River Commissions (Danube, Rhine, Sava) and r organisations approved by CESNI (EBU, ESO, ETF, EDINNA, IVR, GERC and CEMT) participated in the meeting of the Committee chaired by Ms Lucia Luijten.

The excellent supervision of the work by the Ministry, combined with meticulous preparation of the agenda, significantly contributed to the success of particularly productive meetings of the CESNI and its Working Group on Professional Qualifications (CESNI/QP), which met in session on 6-7 November. Mr Jindřich Kušnír, director of the rail and river transport department at the Ministry, warmly welcomed the CESNI members, before presenting the Czech Republic’s transport policy and its strong support of inland navigation.


Adoption of 14 standards in the field of professional qualifications to be implemented in 2022

The CESNI approved 14 standards governing the details of professional qualifications, based on consistent competencies and medical fitness throughout the European Union and on the Rhine. The standards represent the content of the new approach requesting an approved training programme or an examination for all new entrants to the sector before becoming a boatman. As from 2022, it will no longer be possible to qualify as a helmsman solely by experience.

  • Standards for medical fitness
  • Standards of competence for the operational level
  • Standards of competence for the management level
  • Standards of competence for passenger navigation experts
  • Standards of competence for sailing on inland waterways with a maritime character
  • Standards of competence for sailing with the aid of radar
  • Standards of competence for liquefied natural gas (LNG) experts
  • Standards for the practical examination for obtaining a specific authorisation for sailing with the aid of radar
  • Standards for the practical examination for obtaining a certificate of qualification as a passenger navigation expert
  • Standards for the practical examination for obtaining a certificate of qualification as a liquefied natural gas (LNG) expert
  • Standards for practical examination for obtaining a certificate of qualification as a boatmaster
  • Standards for the additional module on supervision in the context of the practical examination for obtaining a certificate of qualification as a boatmaster
  • Standards for technical and functional requirements applicable to vessel-handling simulators and radar simulators
  • Standards for the administrative procedure for the approval of vessel-handling simulators and radar simulators

Uniform competence requirements, developed in a nutshell by the PLATINA project for boatmasters and boatmen, and intensively discussed with social partners and training institutes, pave the way for more labour mobility in Europe. Approved training programmes and examinations with identical content will be recognised on the entire European Union waterways and the Rhine. Until full implementation in 2022, a great deal of work for international and national regulation bodies, as well as for training institutes which will have to adjust their curricula and training programmes, shall have to be done. Exam commissions will have to change their procedures and prepare for mandatory practical examinations.

In the case of qualifications for deck crew members at operational level (boatmen, able boatmen and helmsmen) and management level (boatmasters) it is the first time that theoretical knowledge and practical skills (competencies) have been consistently defined for all Union waterways and for the Rhine. In the case of boatmasters, the standards also govern and standardise in detail the requirements concerning the authorisation to operate on inland waterways of a maritime character, navigation involving sailing craft using liquefied natural gas as fuel and sailing with the aid of radar. The same applies for passenger navigation experts, who are qualified to take measures in emergency situations on board passenger vessels, and for LNG experts, who have to demonstrate competencies when they are involved in the bunkering procedure of a craft using LNG as fuel.

Appropriate minimum requirements were defined for future mandatory practical examinations for boatmasters, for the qualification to sail with the aid of radar and passenger navigation experts as well as for handling LNG. In the case of the practical examination for boatmasters, an additional module was agreed for the practical examination of skills at operating level for side-entrants who have not undergone any approved training programme at operational level or who have not yet demonstrated in an examination the competence that a boatman is required to demonstrate.

Consistent technical and functional requirements were defined for simulators approved for the purpose of conducting practical examinations for the boatmaster and for the authorisation to navigate with the aid of radar. These requirements support this new form of internationally recognised practical examination.

Last but not least, for the first time the Committee defined detailed, consistent medical fitness criteria which, in addition to already existing provisions for vision and hearing, also contain guidelines on how permanent or temporary unfitness can be defined on the basis of the internationally recognised list of inland navigation ailments, subject to examination of each individual case.

The so called “Prague Standards” are not binding per se. The CCNR, the European Union and other international organisations or third countries need to apply the standards by integrating them in their respective legal frameworks in order to ensure the recognition of the certificates of qualification issued.

Upon adoption by the European Commission at the latest by 18 January 2020, the standards will come into force in the EU. Within two years from that date they are to be transposed into the Member States’ national law so that they can be introduced on all European Union waterways in January 2022. At the same time, the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR) which had good experience through the recognition of qualifications and even training programmes from countries outside the Rhine basin, will implement identical requirements on the Rhine so that the free movement of inland navigation employees and the safe navigation of all European rivers can benefit from the so-called Prague Standards.


Adoption of ES-TRIN 2019/1 and of information documents on engines and traditional craft

The Committee adopted the 2019/1 edition of the European Standard laying down technical requirements for inland navigation vessels. This new edition of the Standard, replacing the 2017 edition, became necessary to introduce important amendments concerning, in particular, requirements related to:

  • Automated external defibrillators;
  • Fire-fighting installations – K2CO3;
  • Specific provisions for electrical propulsion systems (Chapter 11);
  • Transitional provisions on:
    • noise limits,
    • engines,
    • electrical equipment and installations
    • ship’s boats,
    • passenger vessel escape routes,
    • the propulsion systems of passenger vessels and
    • safety equipment aft of the aft-peak bulkhead;
  • Numerous editorial corrections in the various language versions.


ES-TRIN is not binding per se. The CCNR, the European Union and other international organisations or third countries can apply this Standard by referring to it in their respective legal frameworks.

The CCNR and EU intend to enact ES-TRIN 2019/1 in a coordinated way, with effect from 1 January 2020, by means of a reference in their respective legislative frameworks.


Furthermore, in collaboration with the European Association of Internal Combustion Engine Manufacturers (EUROMOT), the Committee decided to publish a document on frequently asked questions (FAQ) which aims to help those involved in the sector to understand and implement the requirements as they apply to inland navigation vessel engines in the context of the new requirements stemming from Regulation (EU) 2016/1628 on Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM), and of the ES-TRIN.

Finally, the Committee decided to publish an information document on the procedures for implementing chapter 24 of the ES-TRIN on traditional craft.


Adoption of the 2019-2021 work programme

The CESNI adopted its work programme for the next three years (2019-2021). Based on the strategic guidelines proposed by the European Commission and the CCNR Secretariat, the ambitious work programme is the result of intensive consultations with the various inland navigation stakeholders, in particular the approved organisations representing the industry and profession. This work programme will be further elaborated in early 2019 to ensure its coherence with the Committee’s priorities as well as its successful implementation.

In early 2019, the Committee will start its work on information technologies, including River Information Services (RIS). Accordingly, the CESNI work programme will contain important items related to this new field of activities, in addition to those relating to professional qualifications and technical requirements for vessels.


Establishment of the CESNI/TI Working Group

The Committee has set up a new permanent Working Group on Information technologies (CESNI/TI) to implement its work programme on information technologies. This new Working Group is already the third of its kind, allowing to draw on the valuable experience of the existing Working Group on Technical Requirements (CESNI/PT) and the Working Group on Professional Qualifications (CESNI/QP). Its main responsibilities will consist in drawing up technical standards in the field of information technology, including RIS, promoting proper implementation of the standards both in the RIS field and other information technology fields, and developing guidance and analyses on information technology standards.

CESNI members see great benefits in the gradual integration of the existing RIS Expert Groups (Inland ECDIS Expert Group, VTT Expert Group, ERI Expert Group and NtS Expert Group) in the structure and procedures of CESNI. Therefore, the new Working Group on Information Technologies (CESNI/TI) will have as its primary task the development of proposals leading to such an integration, in close cooperation with these Expert Groups.


(Source: CESNI Secretariat)