ECSA & ETF: Digital Solutions in Shipping Needed to Decrease Administrative Burden

Image Courtesy: Danny Cornelissen/Nautilus International

Shipping is urgently better served by smart digital solutions to finally alleviate administrative workload on crew and companies, it was highlighted by ECSA and ETF on the occasion of the Digital Assembly 2017.

Being held in Valletta on June 15-16, the assembly is co-organised by the European Commission and the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU.

As explained by the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) and the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), shipping today is still not enjoying a genuine single market and remains hampered by endless paperwork. This affects the crew, which faces increased workload with repercussions on rest-time and job satisfaction.

It also affects the overall smooth shipping operations, especially for short sea shipping operators as they frequently call at EU ports within short time spans.

The Reporting Formalities Directive that aimed to simplify and rationalize reporting formalities for ships in European ports as of June 2016 has unfortunately not helped in easing the situation, ECSA and ETF said in a statement.

The situation is believed to be worse for crews and companies today than before. Rather than having a single European window, diverging national solutions were developed and even at member states’ level there is very often no single solution in place.

This results in shipping companies and crew facing increased paper work, different software requirements, a multiplicity of authorities and intermediate parties.

Digital solutions are there, all actors just need now to implement them on the basis of harmonized datasets and formats for cargo, crew and vessel data, according to the two parties.

A joint effort is also required to reduce reporting obligations to a minimum list of truly necessary formalities. ECSA and ETF believe the solution should take state of the art technology into account, ideally, data is available in a ‘cloud’ or other platforms from where relevant authorities pull the needed information.

“Only in this way shipping can be put on an equal par with land-based transport modes, which already benefit from a single market,” the European seafarers and shipowners noted.

The EU Social Partners in the maritime sector call on the European Commission to remedy the situation by revising the directive. It should create a true European single window environment for crew and companies that fully ensures the ‘reporting once’ principle and which shares all necessary cargo and conveyance data between governments and relevant authorities.

ECSA and ETF said they call on the European Commission to prioritize this matter as part of its Digital Agenda and Better Regulation Initiative and to propose a revision in time for it to be completed during this legislature. They also call upon the European Parliament and member states to support and prioritize such a revision.

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