For more than a century, the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR) has been developing safety regulations for Rhine navigation personnel. These regulations define the certificates and qualifications required by navigation personnel aboard freight or passenger vessels. They also concern crew composition: deck and engine room crew members, safety personnel on passenger vessels, and personnel aboard craft using LNG.
In the 2018 Mannheim Declaration, the CCNR reaffirmed its commitment to developing modern and flexible crew-related regulations. These regulations need to take account of social aspects and the rapid development in working conditions both on board and ashore, driven in particular by the emergence of new technologies. Inland navigation professions need to be made more attractive: modern regulations can play a part in this.
The Regulations for Rhine navigation personnel (RPN) encompasses all the regulations for navigation personnel on the Rhine. The various provisions are regularly updated to take account of the real world situation. They apply on the Rhine, from Basel to the open sea.
The CCNR adopted the first international agreement on boatmaster certificates on 14 December 1922. One hundred years later, the CCNR continues to perpetuate the tradition of leading the way on qualifications and crew-related issues.
The most recent version of the RPN came into force on 1 April 2023.
The new RPN has the following objectives:
With a view to harmonising regulations at European level, the CCNR incorporated in the RPN the requirements adopted by the CESNI (European Committee for drawing up Standards in the field of Inland Navigation). The CCNR’s certificates of qualification, service record books and logbooks meet the same requirements as European Union (EU) certificates. As such, they are valid on all EU navigable waterways!
The main changes in the new RPN are listed below:
How does the new RPN facilitate access to IWT for side entrants from the maritime sector?
With the new RPN entered into force on 1 April 2023, conversion from the maritime sector to the IWT sector is facilitated by a better recognition of the professional experience.
Before 1 April 2023, whatever the qualification and the experience gained in maritime, only 2 years were recognised to access the position of a boatman. There was no direct access to helmsman or boatmaster qualifications.
With the new RPN, up to 500 days can be recognised to access the qualification of boatmaster or the qualification of helmsman.
Other countries’ certificates and documents recognised by the CCNR as being equivalent (see section “Recognition of equivalence”) in accordance with the transitional provisions in the RPN.
The applicable labour and social law regulations governing navigation personnel are different from those emanating from the RPN. (These regulations, see legal and social issues).
The CCNR’s common legal framework enables medical fitness examinations to be undergone with any doctor approved by a competent authority. In practice, and for certificates of qualification issued in accordance with the new RPN, the holder can undergo his medical fitness examination in the country of his choosing (Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands or Switzerland).
The authorities of the Member States of the CCNR also cooperate closely when it comes to confiscating documents. The principal effect of this is to maintain traffic safety but also to avoid employers being presented with certificates of qualification that have been withdrawn or suspended.
The recording of data on certificates of qualification, service record books and logbooks in the national electronic registers linked to the European Crew Database is effective in enhancing this coordination.
Questions pertaining to personnel and professional training are dealt with by the Committee on social questions, employment and training (STF) and its STF/G Working group.
Their tasks can be divided into three main categories:
The STF Committee traditionally meets twice a year, in Strasbourg. Schedule of meetings
Chair: Mrs Petra NETHÖVEL-KATHSTEDE, expert from the German delegation
Secretariat: Mrs Charline DALOZE, Administrator responsible for professional qualifications and crews
The adoption of Additional Protocol No. 7 on 27 November 2002 amended the Mannheim Convention to permit the recognition of non-Rhine qualifications. This means that holders of recognised boatmaster certificates or radar certificates can now operate on the Rhine. The aim was to simplify professional obligations and contribute to the development of a large European inland navigation market.
The CCNR adopted its first decisions on the recognition of non-Rhine boatmaster certificates in 2008. Since then, the CCNR has recognised the national certificates of seven European States that are not CCNR members and those of four CCNR Member States as being equivalent. An exact list of the recognised boatmaster certificates and certificates of fitness for navigating using radar is given in the tables below.
Administrative arrangements were also entered into between the CCNR and the relevant States in order to establish the principle and methods of cooperation between both parties. Mutual recognition of boatmaster certificates and radar certificates is to be accompanied by mechanisms for administrative cooperation between the Rhine authorities and the authorities of the States whose certificates are recognised, in order to guarantee the equivalence in duration of the relevant certificates, develop common practices, and also implement reliable information exchange systems. To this end, the agreements make provision for the organisation of joint meetings, and sets up mechanisms to transfer information between the various competent authorities.
Additional conditions are frequently imposed to ensure the validity of national boatmaster certificates of recognised equivalence on the Rhine. These conditions mainly cover the local knowledge required on the Rhine, and renewal of the physical and mental fitness certificate, as attested by additional documents which must be presented at the same time as the national certificate.
The CCNR has recognised a certain number of national certificates of fitness for navigating using radar as being equivalent to the "Patente Radar du Rhin". Here too recognition is frequently subject to additional conditions.
On 8 December 2010, the CCNR and the competent ministries of seven central European States (Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic) signed a multilateral Administrative Arrangement, according to which the signatories agreed to recognise the service record books issued by their respective competent authorities. The Arrangement came into force on the Rhine and throughout the territories of the seven States on 1 July 2011.