European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) - (Decentralised Agencies)

Research, Infrastructure
Oceans and seas , Security , Transport


Not Applicable

Description  Go to funding source website

Decentralised Agencies

Decentralised agencies contribute to the implementation of EU policies. They also support cooperation between the EU and national governments by pooling technical and specialist expertise from both the EU institutions and national authorities. Decentralised agencies are set up for an indefinite period and are located across the EU.


European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA)



  • Role: Offers technical expertise and operational assistance in maritime safety, security and pollution
  • Director: Maja Markovčić Kostelac
  • Set up: 2002
  • Staff: 250
  • Location: Lisbon (Portugal)
  • Website: EMSA

The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) provides technical expertise and operational assistance to improve maritime safety, pollution preparedness and response and maritime security.

Most of the Agency’s tasks are preventive, such as monitoring how certain laws are being applied and evaluating their overall effectiveness, but some tasks are reactive, such as providing EU countries with oil recovery ships in the event of a major spill at sea and detecting marine pollution through satellite surveillance. 


What it does

EMSA provides governments and authorities with detailed, reliable knowledge about what happens at sea, in real time, to help them implement maritime policies effectively. EMSA also offers maritime services which respond to the changing needs of diverse maritime users across Europe:

EMSA plays a pivotal role in promoting best practice. Experience dealing with a variety of both safety and security-related concerns from legal and operational perspectives has given EMSA extensive knowledge about many of the issues which arise, and about the practical realities of addressing them.

EMSA conducts many different kinds of technical inspection:

  • inspecting classification societies listed as ‘Recognised Organisations’ by EU countries
  • inspecting maritime education and certification systems in non-EU countries
  • checking that ships calling at EU ports are adequately inspected
  • checking national vessel traffic monitoring systems.

EMSA also:

  • ensures the consistent investigation of marine accidents throughout the EU
  • shares best practices on maritime safety, security and environmental issues.



EMSA is managed by an executive director who is directly supported by an executive office, 3 heads of department, a policy adviser, an accounting officer and an internal control coordinator. The Agency has 10 individual units under its 3 departments — corporate services, safety and standards, and operations.

EMSA’s executive director reports to an Administrative Board which meets approximately 3 times a year and comprises:

  • 27 government representatives, one from each EU country
  • 2 non-voting government representatives from Iceland and Norway
  • 4 representatives from the European Commission
  • 4 non-voting representatives from the maritime industry.

The Administrative Board discusses and adopts EMSA’s work programme, budget and establishment plan, multi-annual staff policy plan, and the annual report which details the Agency’s performance output.


How it works

Every 5 years, EMSA reviews its strategy and what it is aiming to achieve. After wide-ranging consultations with the Administrative Board and the EU institutions, EMSA draws up a multi-annual work programme. A detailed annual work programme is then drawn up.

EMSA works together closely with other EU agencies and institutional organisations such as:


Who benefits

EMSA’s main target groups are:

  • EU institutions
  • EU national maritime administrations
  • EFTA coastal state maritime administrations.

Internationally, EMSA supports:

  • the International Maritime Organisation
  • countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea and Caspian Sea as part of the European Neighbourhood Policy.


See also

List of publications

Monthly newsletter

Career opportunities

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