In 2010, the EU prescribed that all EU member states develop an electronic system for the exchange of reports for ships arriving in and/or departing from member state ports. Called the Maritime Single Window, this is defined within directive 2010/65 ('MSW directive').
The purpose of this MSW Directive is to ensure that ‘EU Member States deepen cooperation between competent authorities, such as customs, border control, public health and transport authorities, to further simplify and harmonize reporting formalities in the EU and to make the best possible use of electronic data transmission and information exchange systems, with a view to ensuring, as far as possible, the simultaneous removal of obstacles to maritime transport and the creation of a European maritime area without frontiers’.
However, the current MSW directive has not, as intended, led to a reduction in the administrative burden on board ships; on the contrary, it has resulted in a sharp increase in recent years. This happened because the various EU member states and their ports were given the freedom to interpret the MSW directive in their own way. To this day, this causes great frustration among captains, crews and ship owners.
After considerable pressure from the shipping sector, the European Commission started a recovery process a few years ago. This eventually led to a new EU regulation 2019/1239 establishing a European maritime one-stop-shop (‘EMSWe Regulation’).
The main objective of this Regulation is to ‘to lay down harmonised rules for the provision of the information that is required for port calls, in particular by ensuring that the same data sets can be reported to each maritime National Single Window in the same way. This Regulation also aims to facilitate the transmission of information between declarants, relevant authorities and the providers of port services in the port of call, and other Member States’.