The call came at a high-level meeting organised by the Dutch Presidency of the EU Council in Amsterdam on Monday.
ECSA president Niels Smedegaard, also ceo of ferry operator DFDS, said that short-sea shipping has been on the EU’s agenda for quite some time but “a number of long-standing problems remain unresolved.”
The market share of short-sea shipping in Europe has “stagnated, and worse still, declined in recent years,” he pointed out, despite the benefits that moving goods and people by sea around Europe instead of using other transport modes would bring in terms of decongesting land-based transports, easing pressure on logistics chains and dramatically reducing air emissions.
“Short sea shipping is an often overlooked segment of the EU transport system, one that has huge potential, which could be unleashed if the many legislative and administrative weighing it down were treated in a holistic manner,” added ECSA secretary-general Patrick Verhoeven. “There are many low-hanging fruits and we are ready to work closely with EU policy makers to find the best way forward.”
In particular, ECSA laments the absence of “a true Single Market for shipping” which it says “disproportionately affects short sea opearators.” For example, the European Commission in 2010 proposed legislation to rationalise and streamline the administrative formalities for ships calling at EU ports by moving to paperless environment, but so far the desired goal of a “harmonised EU Single Window” (data entry point) has failed to materialise, ECSA says.
At the Amsterdam meeting EC deputy director-general DG Move, Fotis Karamitsos, commented that “the EU Single Window is within reach. The technology is available, it is now only a matter of political will. The shipping industry should continue its campaign for a more workable solution.”