What is Twinning and Twinning Light?

The European Commission offers funding to enable countries close to being ready for, or who have just gained membership of the European Union to enter into twinning partnerships with Member States. Countries seeking accession have to harmonise a number of areas of government and legislation (eg justice, health, law enforcement, competition, transport, education etc) with EC legislation. Twinning project funding is given to Member States to work with these countries on institution building and infrastructure strengthening. The former relates to legislation, administration and implementation; the latter to systems and equipment.

The process of gaining this funding starts with the production of a ‘fiche’, written by the country seeking accession with the approval of the EC. The fiche outlines the project aims, and outcomes, details what is required to achieve them and sets out costs. Member States can make a bid for the project, based on the information in the fiche. Those considered good enough on paper are invited to present the bids formally to the country and the EC. A decision is made soon after; sometimes two or more Member States will be involved.

The projects usually last one to two years and require a Resident Twinning Adviser (RTA ie project manager) to be stationed in the country for the duration. Short-term experts provide the technical input to the various components.

Twinning Light projects differ from full Twinning projects in that they can be of max 10 months duration only, should have a single focus, and there is no resident Twinning Adviser.

The successful completion of these projects is an essential step towards acceptance as new members of the European Union.

The MCA bids for relevant projects, where resources are available and match the requirements, through its International Projects team.  Below is a list of the projects successfully won so far.

Bulgaria SAR Twinning Project - Provision of effective SAR Services in the Bulgarian Maritime Region

This 12 month project (with possible extension) began in August 2007.  It seeks to help the Bulgarian Maritime Administration, an Executive Agency much like the MCA, to improve the provision of effective Search and Rescue (SAR) services in the Bulgarian SAR region.  MCA SAR experts, offering both operational and training expertise, work with Bulgarian counterparts on all aspects of search and rescue, including cooperation with other SAR providers.

Malta Twinning Light Project - Capacity Building at the MMA
This 8 month Twinning Light project ended on 27th June 2007. The overall aim of the project was to enhance the technical and administrative capabilities of the Malta Maritime Authority (MMA) through creation of a training programme and strategy and improved recruitment procedures.

Bulgaria – QMS (Quality Management Systems) Twinning Project
This 17 month project ended in June 2006. It looked to improve procedures to meet ISO 9000:2001 standards in the Bulgarian Maritime Administration and to offer familiarisation training in Quality Management.

Cyprus - Twinning Light Project
This 6 month Twinning Light project was completed in September 2004. Working with the Cyprus Department of Merchant Shipping, MCA offered expertise in monitoring of classification societies and implementation of certain aspects of ILO 147.

Estonian Maritime Safety Twinning Project
Finland, as lead partner, provided the RTA. The main areas covered by this 2 year project, which ended in July 2005) included Vessel Traffic Services (VTS), ISM, quality systems, safe navigation in ice conditions and a training strategy.  The UK/MCA input included the development of an HR development plan and training policy, a review of maritime safety legislation, advice on improvement to FSC and ship inspection, on the dangerous goods aspect of PSC and on ISM audit.

Polish Transport Twinning Project
This complex project lasted from December 2001 to May 2004 and covered the maritime, road and rail sectors. The UK led the project, working with Spain and a UK Government Agency (VOSA), who covered the road and rail elements.   Specific maritime objectives included strengthening Flag State Control (FSC) and Port State Control (PSC) operations, enforcement of procedures for the dangerous goods reporting system and developing a passenger registration system for passenger ships.

Other assistance/cooperation activities
Countries not in the first wave of accession often seek assistance, through bi-lateral cooperation, with their work toward that goal and some of this may lead eventually to full twinning activities.  Funding for such cooperation may be available through the FCO.

Nigeria - Not all bi-lateral cooperation is with European countries. MCA has an ongoing bi-lateral assistance relationship with Nigeria.  In 2007, the MCA hosted several visitors from Nigeria interested in learning about the UK RSS and support to UK flagged vessels, and a further visit is planned for July 2008.

Ghana – At the end of 2007, a group of senior Ghanaian officials from the newly restructured Ghanaian Maritime Authority came for 3 weeks to understand how the MCA functioned and what lessons could be learned.  They talked to colleagues in HQ and in Marine Offices for a broad overview.

Romania - When David Jamieson, the then UK Shipping Minister, visited Romania in September 2002, he promised bi-lateral assistance in the area of maritime safety. The MCA worked with the Romanian Naval Authority in Constanta on a proposal covering ISPS, with funding from the FCO. The seminars took place in Constanta in January 2004 and were followed up by work-shadowing in the UK.

Cyprus – following the completion of the Cyprus Twinning Light Project, a UK Port State Control officer spent a week accompanying DMS Port State Control inspectors on inspections at the port offering feedback on the inspections and additional advice on related matters.

March 2006 saw the opportunity arise for an MCA Surveyor to undertake an exchange visit with counterparts in the Cypriot Maritime Administration. The aim of this visit was to better understand the varied nature of Port State Control Inspections through practical experience in ports where there is a higher likelihood of encountering a significantly sub-standard vessel.

Malta – In support of the MOU signed by David Jamieson and his opposite number in Valletta in July 2003, the MCA was approached by the British High Commission in Malta on behalf of the Malta Maritime Authority (MMA) to host a study visit to look at our VTS systems and UK's implementation of EU Directive 2002/59/EC. The visit was a follow up visit to that organized in May 2001 and its aim was to assist the MMA in determining their own organizational structure and regime.

In May 2005, the Agency hosted MMA Port State Control secondees. Two Maltese Inspectors visited the UK for 6 weeks each, workshadowing our surveyors in Liverpool, Plymouth and Cardiff MOs, to gain experience in PSC inspections on all types of vessels and statutory surveys.

Two Inspectors from the MMA undertook a one week visit to MCA in February 2006 to look at small commercial vessel operation. The MMA were keen to gain direct experience of how the UK applies its Codes and of MCA's relationship with Certifying Authorities. In addition the visit included discussions on transposition and implementation of Directive 98/18/EC (Domestic Passenger Vessels) and bunker barges/domestic tankers.

Sierra Leone - As we said before not all bi-lateral cooperation is with European countries. An MCA expert visited Sierra Leone for a period of five weeks in the summer of 2003 to provide training and Port State Control for the newly recruited trainees of the Sierra Leone Maritime Authority (SLMA).