Administrative simplification is currently high on the political and policy agenda in most countries, particularly in the EU. Shipping is confronted with heavy administrative procedures and reporting requirements, in contrast to land-based transport modes which do not face such burdensome requirements.

The agreement, in April 2019, between the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Presidency of the EU Council on the legislative proposal establishing a European Maritime Single Window environment (EMSWe) should be considered as an important step towards reducing administrative burden and increasing the attractiveness of the maritime transport. The new Regulation provides for a harmonised environment based on the application of the “reporting-only-once” principle and establishes a “one-stop” shop for both the reporting formalities and all other services rendered to stakeholders in the logistics chain.

A respective EU Customs Single Window environment should also be developed and be fully aligned with the EMSWe for the provision of a more harmonised and simplified / digitalised administrative process when vessels enter EU ports.

In this context, the outstanding issue of the simplification of port and customs formalities should be further looked into. Critical issues, such as Pilotage Exemption Certificates (PECs) and pilotage and towage exemptions, pertaining to vessels providing non-scheduled, but frequent, Short Sea Shipping (SSS) services should also be considered.

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, competitiveness and sustainability of the maritime transport.