The European Commission is expected to publish a proposal for a revision of the Reporting Formalities Directive (RFD) in early May 2018 that is intended to remedy the current costly, unharmonised and burdensome reporting requirements facing ships calling at EU ports. Current complex, repetitive and duplicative reporting requirements not only result in productivity losses for maritime carriers and their customers but also create unnecessary workload and stress for ship crews. A genuine “European Single Window” is required that will enable the same data to be submitted in the same way for the same operations and processes in all EU ports. European shipowners (ECSA) and World Shipping Council (WSC) call on the EU Institutions to propose, agree and implement a new European reporting formalities framework that benefits maritime carriers and the wider EU economy. This should be based on the following principles:
The adoption of a ‘harmonised maximum list’ of data reporting requirements for cargo and vessels that is valid in every EU port
Presently the data reporting requirements for vessels and cargo differ between EU States and even between ports in the same country. This must be remedied with the adoption of a maximum harmonised data set to meet the applicable reporting requirements. Data elements must be properly assessed and deleted if not essential. It is equally vital to harmonise the format and structure of the messages used to send these data elements so that the data can be resubmitted and re-used across the EU.
Facilitate Trade through A True European Maritime Single Window (EMSW)
A single EU interface to fulfil all reporting requirements is of clear interest to maritime carriers. There must be full agreement and legal guarantees from all relevant EU and national authorities that such filings, including declarations lodged by maritime carriers pursuant to the Union Customs Code, would be accepted via an EMSW. This would require an unprecedented level of integration between relevant national and EU level authorities, IT systems and processes.
The right framework for the submission, exchange and reuse of data
Key principles that should be incorporated into the new system include the ‘reporting once’ principle, single access point, data sharing and digitalization. These principles are the main tools for reducing the administrative burden for maritime carriers for complying with reporting requirements. The efficient use and reuse of data is key to the efficient flow of B2A (business to authorities) data that will in turn improve the working of the whole logistics chain and boost the competiveness and use of environmentally friendly shipping routes in Europe.