EMPA is a non-profit organization, created in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1963 by pilots of the newborn European Community. Nowadays EMPA regroups member countries associations of maritime pilots from the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
Pilotage is a mandatory public service, strictly regulated by the States, related to maritime safety and protection of the environment. The task of the pilots is to assist the captains of vessels in ports and their approaches by bringing them not only knowledge of the local maritime conditions and operational practices but also their daily extensive experience of navigating ships in restricted waters. They optimize thus, in an efficient way, the traffic flow and the operation of port facilities while ensuring the control of risks inherent in sailing ships in sensitive coastal areas.
In 2010, EMPA represents about 5.000 maritime pilots from 25 European countries, including Norway, Russia, Croatia, Turkey and Ukraine.
The role of EMPA is to facilitate the exchange of information between its members in order to continuously improve the professional and technical proficiency of maritime pilots in the EU and surrounding countries.