E.U. Single Window May Have Another Interface Layer

TRAN Members voting on Clune report
TRAN Members voting on Clune report

By The Maritime Executive 01-10-2019 04:48:59

On January 10, the Transport Committee of the European Parliament (TRAN) adopted its position on the Commission proposal for a regulation establishing a European Maritime Single Window Environment. While largely supported by the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO), concerns remain. 

The single window concept, also being promoted by the IMO in the context of the Convention on the Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic, aims to enable all the information required by public authorities in connection with the arrival, stay and departure of ships, people and cargo, to be submitted via a single portal, without duplication.

The concept of a European Maritime Single Window calls for:

•  Fully harmonized interfaces available to ship operators to provide information in the same way and format across the E.U.

•  A standardized maximum data set including the information necessary for the management of port and port terminals in order to ensure true submit-only-once. Any relevant data already provided to authorities should be made available and not be required again.

Last year, the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism published the draft report by rapporteur, MEP Deirdre Clune (EPP-Ireland), that was voted on this week. It focused on the harmonization of data elements and data sets. Clune advocated the cooperation between customs and maritime authorities at both national and E.U. level but recognized that, even with a fully harmonized data set, competent authorities might for some reasons require additional data. 

This week, an overall majority of the TRAN MEPs voted in favor of her approach which emphasizes the balance between a right level of harmonization and the need to keep pace with ongoing technological developments and on the respect for existing well-functioning reporting channels, such as the Port Community Systems.

This is a positive step, according to ESPO. However, the Organization is disappointed about the adoption of the proposal to develop an E.U. Common Access Point Interface. According to this proposal, a centralized E.U. Common Access Point Interface should be set up, on top of the harmonized National Single Windows and the Port Community Systems.

Currently, Port Community Systems and National Single Windows are the main entry points through which data is reported to the relevant authorities. Under the Commission’s proposal, the National Single Windows are to be harmonized, and will therefore meet the demands of data declarants (shipping lines or their agents) for a more harmonized reporting environment. In addition to these National Single Windows, ports and shipping lines who are currently working with a Port Community System as a one-stop-shop for both the reporting formalities and all other services rendered to stakeholders in the logistics chain will be able to continue, on the condition, of course, that they are compatible with the harmonized National Single Windows.

Besides adding complexity, the establishment of an E.U. Common Access Point Interface would imply considerable investments, to be borne by the European Union, which are not yet defined or budgeted, states the ESPO. Additionally, Member States will have to invest in order to link their National Single Window systems to the centralized system. 

At the same time, ports which have already developed, bottom-up, sophisticated systems for receiving, managing and re-using data, will not give up these reporting channels, since they are fulfilling a lot more services than the reporting of the formalities falling under the scope of the current Clune proposal. The E.U. interface will thus not reduce the cost for port authorities, says the ESPO.

ESPO Secretary General, Isabelle Ryckbost, says the creation of an E.U. Common Access Point Interface creates duplication. “It would create an extra reporting layer, would add on administrative burden, complexity, costs and thus risks to result in adverse effects in terms of efficiency. We hope that the negotiators will go back to the Commission proposal on that point and will understand that adding on layers will not facilitate but complicate the maritime reporting environment.”

Negotiations will continue at the E.U. Parliament over the next two months.