ESPO: EU directive fails to decrease admin burden

ESPO has claimed the EU's RFD does not decrease maritime transport's admin burden Photo: Bankenverband - Bundesverband deutscher Banken/flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0 ESPO has claimed the EU's RFD does not decrease maritime transport's admin burden Photo: Bankenverband - Bundesverband deutscher Banken/flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0

The implementation of Directive 2010/65/EU on reporting formalities for ships arriving in and/or departing from ports of the Member States (the Reporting Formalities Directive, or RFD) fails to succeed in lowering the administrative burden in maritime transport, the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) has said.

In a position paper, the representative body for port administrations for harbours in the EU and Norway said that “clear scope” existed for simplification (decreasing the administrative burden for reporting formalities) and harmonisation (requesting the same data in the same way).

The association said that applying the current RFD does not lower the administrative burden in maritime transport because realising an internal market for this form of carriage should mainly focus on administrative simplification and getting rid of customs obstacles for EU goods transported between European ports.

Considerations needed

In the document, ESPO laid out a number of factors that it felt needed to be taken into account for a single window environment to be obtained successfully.

These included European ports needing to simplify administrative procedures and strengthen harmonisation efforts of the different reporting data formats — by ensuring that the same data elements could be reported to each authority in the same way — and the fact that the “reporting once principle” only had a limited scope and could engender liability problems.

Additionally, the organisation believed all ongoing work to standardise the format that the data was reported through needed to be supported and further encouraged.

ESPO also said that a priority should be co-operation between custom and maritime authorities in simplifying their administrative processes and harmonising data formats and that reporting should occur through robust but flexible systems that guarantee data reliability and permit a multichannel approach.

Also needing taking into account was the idea that developing a European Single Window environment as an interface where the data provider passed all a vessel call’s requirements in one go could only work if this structure was more than just a technical interface.

Finally, it felt that the scope of the European Single Window environment should be clearly defined with regards to how its concept could satisfy administrative and operational needs from stakeholders.

The association also said in the paper that overall, European ports felt that huge technological progress had been made since the adoption of the first national single window in maritime — with today’s digitalisation technologies often offering far more advanced, safer, cheaper and more interoperable solutions for many of the challenges it had noted.

This next technological stage “should already be taken into account” when working on a single window system, with this helping to solve some of the outstanding problems, ESPO claimed.

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