ECSA and other maritime stakeholders have joined an initiative led by the European Community Association of Ship Brokers and Agents (ECASBA), sending a letter to EU Member States and the European Commission and calling for various measures to be taken in an effort to revitalise the EU’s Short Sea Shipping policy, which has widely been recognised as a sustainable form of intra-European transport and a viable solution to traffic congestion.
This call comes almost a year after the Informal Maritime Ministerial meeting in Athens, which issued a statement, better known as the “Athens Declaration”. In it, Ministers recognised the importance of the shipping sector to the European economy and called on the European Commission and Member States to “make all relevant efforts to reach a high-ambition agreement for shipping”.
“A year ago we warmly welcomed the Athens Declaration, which recognised shipping’s contribution to Europe’s welfare, but more specifically also highlighted the importance of Short Sea Shipping and the need to take action to foster this particular segment of EU shipping” commented ECSA Secretary-General Patrick Verhoeven. “However we believe that new impetus needs to be injected into this initiative in order to turn some of the commitments in the Athens Declaration into a reality.”
“In particular, we believe that there are low hanging fruit that can be reaped in Short Sea Shipping, a segment of our industry that has not yet lived up to its full potential, primarily due to unnecessary and duplicative administrative burdens, cumbersome and repetitive customs procedures and arcane reporting formalities” he continued.
In terms of administrative procedures, shipping is indeed at a disadvantage when compared to other modes of transport. Reducing regulatory and administrative burdens would by itself bring significant benefits to the short sea sector but continued adherence to outdated policies (a prime example being that European coastal cargo moving more than 12 miles offshore loses its community status) has prevented advances in this respect. Regrettably a wide range of government agencies and authorities within the EU have resisted efforts to implement such changes and streamline the procedures needed to establish a genuine ‘European Maritime Space without Barriers’.
“We believe it is in the interest not only of our industry but of the EU transport system and the EU more generally to foster Short Sea Shipping. The ensuing benefits are within reach, provided there is real political will to move forward on this issue” concluded Mr. Verhoeven.
The joint letter can be found here