Reporting Formalities Directive could harmonize ship reporting requirements

The European Commission is expected to publish a proposal for a revision of the Reporting Formalities Directive (RFD) early in May, with the aim of eliminating the current unharmonized reporting requirements for ships calling at EU ports.

European shipowners (ECSA) and the World Shipping Council (WSC) have called on the EU to implement a European reporting formalities framework based on:

  1. The adoption of a ‘harmonized maximum list’ of data reporting requirements for cargo and vessels that is valid in every EU port. Presently the data reporting requirements for vessels and cargo differ between EU States and even between ports in the same country. Data elements should be assessed and deleted if not essential. ECSA said that it was equally vital to harmonize the format and structure of the messages used to send data elements, so that the data can be resubmitted and re-used across the EU.
  2. Facilitate Trade through a “true” European Maritime Single Window (EMSW), to fulfil all reporting requirements. ECSA said that there needed to be agreement and legal guarantees from all relevant EU and national authorities that such filings, including declarations lodged by maritime carriers pursuant to the Union Customs Code, would be accepted via an EMSW. ECSA accepted that this would “require an unprecedented level of integration between relevant national and EU level authorities, IT systems and processes”.
  3. The right framework for the submission, exchange and reuse of data. Key principles that should be incorporated into the new system include the ‘reporting once’ principle, single access point, data sharing and digitalization.