Last week, ESPO published a policy paper on customs emphasising the differences in application of Community customs rules that are still being reported in EU ports.
These different practices lead to the phenomenon of ‘port shopping’ by shipping lines and shippers, which leads to distortion of competition between European ports, and to unequal treatment of traders.
In its policy paper, ESPO further asks the Commission to clarify the relation between the national single window development, which is linked to the Directive on Ship Reporting Formalities, and the e-customs initiative in order to avoid two co-existing single windows, one for vessels and one for cargo reporting. Furthermore, ESPO warns the Commission that the application of the EU’s advance cargo declaration regime in Mediterranean ports results in the rerouting of cargo to neighbouring ports in North Africa. In order to ensure a level playing field, ESPO recommends that cargoes that are transhipped in EU ports (i.e. third country origin and destination cargo) are exempted from the entry summary declaration (ENS) implementation or, at least, that the information requirements become less exhaustive.
In the paper, ESPO members also identify a number of operational improvements that would facilitate the smooth movement of goods through ports:
− Fully electronic and automated procedures for maritime transport of intra-community freight/containers. An electronic T2L (e-T2L or equivalent document) to facilitate and simplify compliance with customs legislation by proving community status of the goods through electronic means.
− Facilitation of the procedures linked to intermodal transport (inland barge and rail) by eliminating the need for a transit document from the port of discharge to the inland terminal where the final customs clearance takes place.
− A one-stop-shop and single window for import goods at Border Inspection Post to facilitate the coordination of physical inspections by different authorities and speed up the submission of information and the release of the cargo in ports. ESPO will continue to examine customs and other control procedures and practices in seaports, which are key elements of a competitive EU port system and to ensure that customs become a neutral factor and does not influence competition between ports.
The ESPO policy paper on customs can be downloaded here: 2012-12-03 espo policy on customs final