In an effort to gather much needed information and to obtain some clarity regarding the situation on the ground, cargo owners, freight forwarders, port authorities, terminal operators, ship agents and shipping companies have sent EU Member States a questionnaire to ascertain which systems countries are putting in place to comply with Reporting Formalities Directive 2010/65/EU, which enters into force on June 1st. The Directive was part of a wider Commission initiative to reduce administrative formalities for shipping and increase the ease of doing business.
Progress on the implementation of the directive has been slow and uneven between Member States, partly due to the fact that the 2010 Reporting Formalities Directive only foresees the creation of digital single entry points for the required data, also called Single Windows, at national level. Member States are not required to set up similar, or even compatible systems, which in turn leads to a major compliance challenge for the shipping industry. Coordination efforts led by the Commission have so far not yielded the expected results, leaving ship operators in a difficult position.
In the short term, the shipping industry needs clarity with regard to the information that it will be required to provide to each Member State as well as additional information on the means and practicalities linked to the delivery system. It also needs the extension of existing systems for a certain period of time so as to guarantee a smoother transition.
“With the deadline for the entry into force of the Directive only a few days away, shipowners need to know which information they need to transmit and how. The main reason behind the questionnaire sent to EU member States is to determine what is expected from the shipping community, in other words which measures we need to take to be compliant with the Directive. Finally we also ask Member States to allow for a continuation of existing reporting formalities so as to avoid any major disruptions in trade” said ECSA Secretary-General Patrick Verhoeven.
In the longer term however, a more homogenous reporting formalities landscape is required to provide ship operators with real facilitation instead of a patchwork of non-compatible Single Windows.
“We share the aims of the Directive, namely digitalising, streamlining and rationalising extremely burdensome, repetitive and arcane ship reporting formalities when calling at EU ports. This is why we renew our plea to the European Commission and Member States to do everything in their power to remain in line with the spirit of the Directive. The underlying logic behind this piece of legislation was to provide the industry with trade facilitation and increase the ease of doing business” he remarked.
The questionnaire sent to member States can be found here