The European Community Shipowners’ Association (ECSA) and the World Shipping Council (WSC) have welcomed the adoption of a General Approach on the proposal for a European Maritime Single Window environment (EMSWe) by Transport Ministers.“With the adoption of this General Approach, the Member States agreed to facilitate, simplify and harmonise the reporting to be done and take a step towards a real internal market for shipping,” Martin Dorsman, ECSA’s Secretary General, commented.European co-legislators have been working intensively to reduce the administrative burden shipping faces. This burden stems from today’s unharmonized and inefficient reporting obligations and mechanisms within the EU.“The shipping industry is looking to the EU Institutions to deliver a European Maritime Single Window environment that remedies the deficiencies and costs that arose from the original Directive and its lack of a common blueprint for implementation by Member States. Because of those experiences it is even more important to make sure the agreed legal framework provides what’s needed to bring about real and tangible benefits to Europe’s maritime commerce,” John Butler, CEO and President of the World Shipping Council said.ECSA and WSC said they are pleased to see in the Council’s text a clear commitment to establish a harmonized data set, which is essential to reach real trade facilitation. The Council has agreed that the data elements must be kept to only the essential reporting information that is required and that additional temporary requirements are only added in exceptional and duly justified circumstances.“This is a very necessary addition, as we must be sure that once the spring cleaning of the reporting obligations is completed, this will not be undone the next day by allowing authorities to request without restrictions, any additional information in parallel to the EMSWe harmonised data set,” Dorsman added.As informed, the European Parliament Transport Committee is also making important improvements to the proposal. Both the draft report of MEP Ms Clune, the rapporteur, as well as several of the amendments tabled by her fellow MEPs are in line with requests from the industry to simplify and harmonize, not only the data, but also the reporting mechanism.“On this last element, the ‘how’ to report the data or the so-called ‘reporting interfaces’, we stress the need to make sure these interfaces are truly harmonised and common, both for system-to-system reporting and manual reporting using websites. We very much welcome amendments from MEPs that look at providing a single access point at EU level and harmonisation of the manual reporting tools (the Graphical User Interface). We stress this would not replace existing well-functioning reporting mechanisms, provided by some port community systems and national single windows,” Dorsman noted.“However, we should not forget these do not exist in all ports and Member States. We cannot miss this unique opportunity to bring all EU ports to an advanced level by providing a common baseline standard, to the benefit of trade in general and short sea shipping in particular,” he further said.