Key EESC messages
The EU is dependent on maritime transport for its internal trade and its trade with the rest of the world: 74% of the goods imported or exported by the EU and 37% of goods traded within the EU pass through seaports. Maritime transport can have lower operating costs and less negative environmental impact per unit compared to other forms of transport. Yet, there is still no internal shipping market, despite the fact that the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union specifically refers to the free movement of EU goods in article 28.
The EESC welcomes the Commission's proposals set out in the communication, which aim to improve the operation of the maritime transport market and reduce the administrative burden for the maritime transport sector, thus making it more competitive. Neither safety nor security, however, may be jeopardised.
One of the preconditions for the success of the Commission's proposals – both those on regular shipping services and those on the eManifest – is that Member States' IT systems must be completely interoperable for the eManifest. The EESC would point out that experience has shown that this is not a foregone conclusion, even when building on existing systems.
The EESC would also highlight the need to ensure that all stakeholders – and in particular customs authorities – are kept properly informed. There have been cases where the customs authorities were either unaware that operators were using paper manifests, as they are legally entitled to do, or refused to validate or accept them. Similarly, the EESC feels that regular consultations should be held with representatives of the shipping sector, freight forwarders and employees in order to consult them on and inform them about obstacles linked to the implementation of the proposals.
Contact the TEN Section secretariat for more information