In order to ensure competitiveness and efficiency of European maritime transport sector it is necessary to reduce the administrative burden on ships and to facilitate the use of digital information with the aim of improving the efficiency, attractiveness and environmental sustainability of the maritime transport and contribute to the integration of the sector to the digital multimodal logistic chain.
National Single Windows
On 20 October 2010, the European Parliament and the Council adopted Directive 2010/65/EU on reporting formalities for ships arriving in and/or departing from ports of the Member States. This directive is more commonly known as the Reporting Formalities Directive (RFD).
The objective of the RFD is to simplify and harmonise the administrative procedures applied to maritime transport and it sets an obligation for Member States to establish National Single Windows (NSW) for reporting formalities from ships arriving in and/or departing from ports by 1 June 2015 for the 14 reporting formalities listed in the Annex of the RFD. The information should be submitted electronically and only once thus removing the need of submitting same or similar information separately to different authorities. Furthermore, the Directive requires that the reporting formalities are requested in a harmonised manner in all ports within an EU country.
In order to assist in the implementation of the RFD, the Commission established an expert group on maritime administrative simplification and electronic information services - known as the eMS group - with a mission to identify business processes and develop specifications for the NSWs. The group was composed of representatives from the national maritime administrations. Additionally the industry representatives have been invited to the meetings as observers. The European Maritime Safety Agency supported the Commission during the eMS group meetings and was actively contributing to the drafting of the functional, technical and testing specifications.
A number of different authorities and services such as transport, customs, border control, safety, security, health and environment have been participating to the work of the eMS group to produce the single window definition, harmonised business rules and the unique NSW data set aligned with regulatory requirements and existing standards. Over the time this work has been merged to produce the National Single Window Guidelines document.
In 2016, the Commission launched a REFIT evaluation of the RFD together with the VTMIS Directive. The outcome of the support study leads to the conclusion that the objectives of the RFD were not (or only partially) attained:
- Paper reporting is still used to a certain extent in more than 50% of ports, often as duplication;
- Reporting is only fully digitalised and harmonised only in a few EU countries;
- True single window submit only-once reporting is available only in a few EU countries;
- The information is seldom shared and re-used, notably between EU countries;
Furthermore, not enough progress has been made on the EU level harmonisation - all NSWs implemented are different.
Therefore, the positive impact of National Single Windows is small, sometimes even negative for the shipping industry.
Towards a European Maritime Single Window environment
The Member States and the industry are requesting the Commission to act urgently. On 29 March 2017, the EU Transport Ministers underlined in the 'Valetta Declaration' the shortcomings of the Reporting Formalities Directive and invited the Commission to propose a follow-up to the evaluation of the RFD, which would include a harmonised European Maritime Single Window environment. In their joint statement on 1 March 2017, major EU shipping associations urged the EU to launch a fundamental overhaul of the Reporting Formalities Directive with a view to create a true European Maritime Single Window environment. The Valletta Declaration was endorsed by the Council of the EU on 08 June, 2017.
Considering the perceived limitations of the RFD and the NSWs, there is a need to move towards a genuine and harmonised European Maritime Single Window environment, containing amongst others the following characteristics:
- Fully harmonised interfaces available to ship operators to provide information in the same way and format across the EU.
- A standardised maximum data set including the information necessary for the management of port and port terminals in order to ensure true submit-only-once. Any relevant data already provided to authorities should be made available and not be required again.
The eManifest initiative
Following the Blue Belt initiative, the idea of a harmonised and electronic manifest has received wide support.
Early 2016, DGs MOVE and TAXUD, together with the European Maritime Safety Agency, launched the eManifest pilot project. The overall objective of the project is to simplify the submission of data elements required by both maritime and customs authorities using a harmonised cargo data set, with the aim to reduce administrative burden for ship data providers. Individual data elements should be submitted in a standardised format to the relevant authorities and not asked separately.
A project group was established consisting of the Commission services, EMSA, representatives of maritime and customs authorities of 13 Member States and of the industry associations.
The use of a harmonised eManifest should follow the principle established in the Reporting Formalities Directive that parties involved in trade and transport should be able to lodge standardised information and documents via an electronic single Window to fulfil reporting formalities. EMSA has developed a European Maritime Single Window prototype to test feasibility and possible technical solutions.
The harmonised eManifest data set will be compliant with the EU Customs Data Model and as well as with the WCO Data Model.
The e-Maritime concept aims at promoting the competitiveness of the European maritime transport sector and a more efficient use of resources through better use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools.
The widespread use of electronic information and the Internet are changing the world. In maritime transport and transport in general, notifications, declarations, certifications, requests and service orders are increasingly submitted, managed and stored in electronic rather than paper format. Modern ICT systems provide undeniable benefits that are not allowed by paper based information as automated information verification and analysis, processing of data and optimisation routines, easy sharing of information already submitted or stored and so on.
However, many of the current processes and regulations, even if electronic, are still based on procedures established for paper transactions decades ago. Possible solutions to allow re-use of data already submitted, remove unnecessary reporting obligations and optimise port and ship processes will be discussed in the context of the Digital Transport and Logistic Forum.
The Forum, set up by the Commission, will gather experts, business operators and policy makers in order to identify the needs and prepare for common actions at EU level for improving freight transport and logistics with more efficient use and reuse of digitalised information currently produced and stored by many different stakeholders. Such actions would aim to improve sharing of information that allows shippers to choose the transport service most suited to their needs, reduce the time and resources absorbed by compliance with administrative requirements and enable transport and logistic service providers to optimise the management of transport assets in real-time, thus facilitating the establishment of environmentally efficient transport and logistic services for all users.
Directive 2010/65/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 on reporting formalities for ships arriving in and/or departing from ports of the Member States and repealing Directive 2002/6/EC Text with EEA relevance
(updated 1 July 2021)
Ex-post evaluation of Reporting Formalities Directive (RFD) and Directive on Vessel Traffic Monitoring and Information Systems (VTMIS)
Register of the Commission Expert groups: Maritime administrative simplification and electronic information services – the eMS group, including meeting reports
Register of the Commission Expert groups - Digital Transport and Logistics Forum
Public consultation: "The EU e-Maritime initiative" (28/04/2010 - 27/06/2010)