Wide Support for European Maritime Single Window Agreement

Deirdre Clune
Deirdre Clune

Published Feb 14, 2019 5:01 PM by The Maritime Executive

The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO), the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) and the World Shipping Council have voiced their approval for the agreement reached between the E.U. Parliament and E.U. Council on the new regulation establishing a European Maritime Single Window environment. 

The new framework agreed last week will repeal the current Reporting Formalities Directive. It provides for the creation of a Single Window dataset, harmonized National Single Windows and the application of the reporting-only-once principle. 

The single window concept developed under the leadership of E.U. Rapporteur Deirdre Clune 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.

The new regulation builds on the existing reporting systems, the National Single Windows and Port Community Systems, and is explicit about technology neutrality.

“We see the agreement as a real breakthrough,” says Isabelle Ryckbost, Secretary General of ESPO. “We are very happy that the new framework is recognizing the bottom-up efforts and investments already made and underway by European ports towards creating a one-stop shop for both the reporting formalities and all other services rendered to stakeholders in the logistics chain. The agreement is thus fully compliant with the ambitious digitalization agenda of many European ports.”

ESPO supports the move to ensure that the same data sets can be reported in the same way, as the first priority for ports is to simplify administrative procedures. This is to be achieved by creating a European Maritime Single Window maximum dataset. ESPO is also pleased that the final text is giving the possibility to Member States to ask in the event of exceptional circumstances, for additional data, for a limited period of time, without having to ask the permission of the Commission.

ECSA’s Secretary-General, Martin Dorsman, says the agreement will lead to an instrument that will bring real and positive change for shipping companies and crews. “We welcome in particular that the co-legislators have agreed to the idea of a harmonized data set. This is the fundamental building block that will bring true harmonization and simplification for the shipping industry and other partners in the chain.”

World Shipping Council CEO and President, John Butler, said: “The agreement not only harmonizes the data that must be reported but also the way that it is to be transmitted. The E.U. machine to machine interface module as required by the Regulation will simplify the process of reporting data as long as it is implemented identically in each national single window without deviation. The adoption of the legal text is the first important step. The next is to deliver the benefits through loyal implementation.”

The agreement reached must now be further formalized by the Council and the Parliament and is expected to apply as from 2025 (six years after the entry into force).