Verification of the implementation of the EU maritime safety and security legislation remains a core task of the Agency. There are several reasons for verifying how this legislation is implemented in practice, including detecting gaps in the overall safety system; promoting a harmonised approach across the European Union; and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the measures in place.


EMSA carries out inspections in accordance with Article 2.2(b) of its Founding Regulation, which states that the Agency shall assist the Commission:

“(b) in the effective implementation of relevant binding legal acts of the Union, in particular by carrying-out visits and inspections as referred to in Article 3 of this Regulation and by providing technical assistance to the Commission in the performance of the inspection tasks assigned to it pursuant to Article 9(4) of Regulation (EC) No 725/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 March 2004 on enhancing ship and port facility security. In this regard, it may address suggestions to the Commission for any possible improvements of those binding legal acts;”

Article 3.2 then provides that:

“3. The Agency shall carry out inspections on behalf of the Commission as required by binding legal acts of the Union regarding organisations recognised by the Union in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 391/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on common rules and standards for ship inspection and survey organisations, and regarding the training and certification of seafarers in third countries in accordance with Directive 2008/106/EC.”

In each case, EMSA’s inspections are carried out on the basis of the specific Union law relating to the relevant area. The formula of the inspections depends on the area of activity:

  1. MONITORING OF RECOGNISED ORGANISATIONS: The Commission has been entrusted by Union law with the task of carrying out assessments of Recognised Organisations and has delegated to the Agency the conduct of supporting inspections of the Recognised Organisations.

  2. STANDARDS FOR SEAFARERS: The Commission has been entrusted by Union law with the task of carrying out assessments of the maritime education, training and certification systems for seafarers in third countries on behalf of the EU Member States and has delegated the conduct of inspections to the Agency.

  3. MARITIME SECURITY: The Agency has been given the task of assisting the Commission with its inspections of Member States under Regulation (EC) No 725/2004 on enhancing ship and port facility security. The Agency supports the Commission with the inspection of national administrations responsible for ship and port facility security, port facilities, ships, shipping companies and Recognised Security Organisations. EMSA also provides similar assistance to the EFTA Surveillance Authority for the EFTA Member States.

Inspections are carried out by way of document reviews, verification of facilities, staff interviews and examining files on a sampling basis. A 'top-down' approach is applied throughout, beginning with the central competent authority, and then to designated authorities at national, regional and local authorities as well as other relevant institutions.