Home OrganisationsEuropean Union ESPO outlines its priorities for the revision of the Reporting Formalities Directive

ESPO outlines its priorities for the revision of the Reporting Formalities Directive

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Isabelle Ryckbost, EFIP’s director

22 March 2018 – Now that the Commission is drafting the proposal for the revision of the Reporting Formalities Directive, the European Sea Ports Organisation wants to outline once more its priorities and concerns through a position paper on this upcoming proposal, which is expected to come out in May.

The Reporting Formalities Directive (2010/65) aimed to reduce the reporting burden in maritime transport by simplifying and harmonising the existing information requirements (the reporting formalities) and by developing a single entry point for those requirements at Member State level (the National Single Windows). Reporting the information requirements only once at a given port call has also been an objective of the current Directive.

However, the implementation of the Reporting Formalities Directive has not succeeded in reducing the administrative burden in maritime transport. There is still clear scope for simplification (reduce administrative burden for reporting formalities) and harmonisation (asking the same data in the same way).

ESPO therefore agrees with the Commission and other stakeholders that there is a clear need to revise the Reporting Formalities Directive.

In this context, the Commission is working on a proposal for the development of a European Single Window Environment as a solution to reduce the administrative burden in the reporting process. ESPO believes that the development of a single window environment can only be achieved in a successful way if the following considerations are taken into account: 

  • The first priority for European ports is to simplify administrative procedures and strengthen the efforts on harmonisation of the different reporting data formats by ensuring that the same data elements can be reported to each competent authority in the same way. Only when justified by specific local circumstances, additional data at the level of the port should be required.
  • The “reporting once principle” has only a limited scope and may cause liability issues. The majority of reporting formalities are “dynamic” data (between two port calls, the situation of the ship and the cargo and thus the data are changing and need to be updated or amended). Moreover, when considering the data to be submitted to the different receiving authorities in a given port (country), there seems to be only a very limited amount of overlapping requirements (same data asked by different authorities). Finally, when the same data is reused by different authorities, it should be clear for those authorities that the reporting party is the responsible party and that the data concerned is meant to be processed by those authorities.
  • All ongoing initiatives and efforts to standardise the format through which the data are reported have to be supported and further encouraged. Harmonised formats ease the life of both the provider and the receiver of information.
  • Cooperation between maritime and custom authorities at both national and EU level in simplifying their administrative procedures and harmonizing data formats should be a priority. Furthermore, DG MOVE and DG TAXUD should closely cooperate and align the development of their respective single windows.
  • The reporting should be done through resilient and robust yet flexible systems that ensure the reliability of data and allow for a multichannel approach, enabling the use of port community systems.
  • A single window environment should also have a governance dimension: e. g. the single window environment should have the competences and responsibility to distribute the data to the respective authorities.

Overall, European ports believe that there has been enormous technological progress since the adoption of the current Directive. Today’s innovative digitalisation technologies often offer far more advanced, more interoperable, safer and cheaper solutions for many of the above mentioned challenges (e.g. block chain technology, data pipeline and application programming interfaces). This next technological level should already be taken into account when developing a European Single Window Environment.

We support the Commission’s effort to review the current Directive and find solutions to further simplify reporting procedures and harmonise data requirements. This exercise should be prioritised. We fear that a single window environment without the prior exercise of simplification and harmonisation will not deliver in terms of making maritime transport more efficient. On the contrary it risks shifting the burden from ship to shore.” says ESPO Secretary General Isabelle Ryckbost.

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