Europe needs to work harder on its single window for ship reporting if the benefits of digital communication can be realised in shipping.
In a message to the European Commission the European Community Shipowners Association and the World Shipping Council voiced their support for a proposed rewrite of the existing single window directive which has failed to live up to expectations.
The notion of a single window for administrative reporting was created to simplify the burned on hips masters and others when visiting number of different European ports. Having a single window would, the argument went, allow a vessel to issue one single report electronically into a Europe wide system as the vessel approached the first European port.
With the Single Window directive in force in 2014 it soon became apparent that European countries still kept their own reporting requirements, and that even some ports in the same country had differing demands thus conflating the problem. The result in some cases has been a single window reporting mechanism that has added to the reporting requirements rather than streamlining them.
The proposed drafts will help remove some of this burden, especially as ports and vessels are increasingly exchanging other information digitally, and in some cases, automatically. By linking single window into port messaging and other maritime administrative requirements, such as customs, is seen as part of the continued integration of shipping into the larger cargo logistics chain.
Martin Dorsman, secretary-general of ECSA said in a statement that it was high time to release company and crew from this administrative burden, adding that it also negatively impacts efficient shipping operations and puts short-sea shipping in Europe at a comparative disadvantage with other modes and transport.
Dorsman did however have a caveat about having a new system that would become a cost to shipowners, namely part of the proposed changes that would force owners to replace existing human-system and system-system reporting with a new harmonised yet still separate system.
ECSA wants to see a single window that would replace EU member state internal systems and be able to route data around the required port authorities, and convince the port authorities to accept the data included in an approved single window reporting formality and not add their own additional requirements.
The proposed amendments have been reviewd by the European Parliament’s Transport Committee ahead of final aproval.