Yesterday’s acceptance by the Transport Committee of the European Parliament of the Clune report covering regulations for establishing a European Maritime Single Window Environment has been generally welcomed by the shipping industry but with some reservations by ESPO the umbrella body for port operators.
Before the vote shipowners bodies such as ECSA and WSC had expressed a hope that the report would be accepted but after it had been ESPO issued a statement regretting that an additional requirement to report at an EU level had been included.
Currently, Port Community Systems (PCS) and National Single Windows (NSW) are the main entry points through which data is reported to the relevant authorities. Under the Commission’s proposal, the National Single Windows are to be harmonised, and will therefore meet the demands of data declarants (shipping lines or their agents) for a more harmonised reporting environment. In addition to these NSW’s, ports and shipping lines who are currently working with a PCS as a one-stop-shop for both the reporting formalities and all other services rendered to stakeholders in the logistics chain will be able to continue, on the condition, of course, that they are compatible with the harmonised NSW’s.
The ESPO statement said “In many ways, the adopted Clune report improves the Commission proposal and is a solid basis for finding a compromise with the Council on this long-awaited proposal”.
“Many of the proposals made are an important step forward for the maritime and port industry, while leaving enough flexibility to allow bottom-up developments and investments which aim at digitalising, not only the reporting formalities data chain as such but also the much wider data chain to the benefit of the whole logistic chain and wider port community. The reporting formalities issue is a very complex but very important issue. We are very grateful for the high level of understanding the rapporteur and shadow rapporteurs have shown over the last months”, said ESPO Secretary General, Isabelle Ryckbost, commenting the outcome of the vote.
ESPO regrets, however, that the realistic and straightforward EP approach is brought out of balance by the adoption of the proposal to develop an EU Common Access Point Interface. According to this proposal, a centralised EU Common Access Point Interface should be set up, on top of the harmonised National Single Windows and the Port Community Systems.
“The current Commission proposal is the result of in-depth evaluations of the different possible options to create a more efficient reporting environment for all stakeholders. The Commission has chosen the pathway of the harmonisation of the National Single Windows. The creation of an EU Common Access Point Interface on top of this, as called for in the adopted EP text, means a duplication of the to be harmonised National Single Windows. It would create an extra reporting layer, would add on administrative burden, complexity, costs and thus risks to result in adverse effects in terms of efficiency. We hope that the negotiators will go back to the Commission proposal on that point and will understand that adding on layers will not facilitate but complicate the maritime reporting environment. Let us try to deliver on the harmonisation of the data and of the National Single Windows”, added Ryckbost.
Besides adding complexity, the establishment of an EU Common Access Point Interface would imply considerable investments, to be borne by the European Union, which are not yet defined or budgeted. Additionally, Member States will have to invest in order to link their National Single Window systems to the centralised system. At the same time, ports which have already developed, bottom-up, sophisticated and innovative systems for receiving, managing and re-using data, will not give up these state-of-the-art reporting channels, since these are fulfilling a lot more services than the reporting of the formalities falling under the scope of the current proposal. The EU interface will thus not reduce the cost for port authorities.