Training cooperation between European authorities providing training on coast guard functions has again proceeded by leaps and bounds. This progress was described at a seminar held in the Rajatalo building during a presentation of results of the ECGFA NET II project, led by the Finnish Border Guard, aimed at developing cooperation on coast guard functions education.
In 2017, the first European training exchange programme was organised where maritime authorities opened their training opportunities to European sister organisations. The exchange programme participants were able to learn about their work in circumstances that differ from their own working environments and to share best practices. After the one-week exchange period, the participants shared knowledge and skills obtained from their experiences with other people in their respective organisations. The exchange programme has an important role in promoting cooperation between authorities, as it enables participants to examine other people’s practices and build trust between authorities. In all, 11 maritime organisations from seven European countries took part in the training exchange. The exchange programme was implemented within the network of European maritime institutions that offer education and training in coast guard functions. The ECGF Training Network has been established in the project.
Progress has also been made in work aimed at harmonizing the education of coast guard functions. In this project, the Italian Coast Guard heads work aimed at achieving uniform quality for education related to European coast guard functions. To attain this goal, joint qualification requirements will be developed for all education in the sector in Europe, so training would provide everyone with the same capabilities for their duties. Harmonization of education is important from the perspective of international cooperation between authorities and joint operations, among other things.
The background of educational cooperation is the European Coast Guard Functions Forum (ECGFF), a consortium of maritime law enforcement authorities and coast guard functions operators. Germany, the chair of the Forum, participated in the seminar and gave a presentation of European maritime cooperation in its address. Besides project partners, participants also included representatives from both national and international stakeholders. In attendance were representatives from, for example, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA), the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), and the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).
The ECGFA NET II project supports the Finnish Border Guard’s new strategy that was announced at the beginning of November. According to the strategy, the development of cooperation with maritime authorities is an important method for promoting maritime safety. In addition to the Finnish Border Guard, the project includes 12 other European national coast guard organisations. The Italian Coast Guard heads the work aimed at harmonizing education, and the Spanish Maritime Safety Agency serves as the chair of the ECGF Training Network.
The main financier of the ECGFA NET II project is the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). The overall budget is EUR 500,000, 80% of which is covered by EU funding. The second phase of the project ends at the end of this year, and the third phase of the project is in planning.