‘Man Overboard!’ Was EU Influence on the Maritime Labour Convention Lost at Sea?
The European Union (EU) is widely regarded as a powerful actor in the establishment and maintenance of many global regulatory regimes. It actively engages in the promotion of labour standards beyond its borders, including through supporting the International Labour Organization (ILO). This article assesses EU influence in drafting one of the most important ILO standards in recent years: the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) (2006). Through analysis of official ILO records from the entire six-year period of negotiation and tracing the role of the EU during the negotiations of five vital parts of the convention (structure, simplified amendment procedure, inspection and enforcement, scope, and social security), it challenges the view in the literature that the EU significantly influenced the final content of the convention. Delays in establishing a cohesive EU position, the strong tripartite ethos within the ILO, and limitations imposed by rules-based standard setting, are identified as the primary explanations.