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Monday, 29 July 2013

Blue Belt: EU eases customs formalities for ships

On July 8, the European Commission released a proposal – entitled the “Blue Belt Communication” -  to ease custom formalities for ships – reducing red tape, cutting delays in ports and making the sector more competitive.
The proposal aims to make fight the current situation in which freight forwarders and exporters complain that if they chose to send goods across Europe by short sea shipping, the heavy administrative burden at ports causes additional costs and significant delays, the Commission informs. The intention is to make the maritime sector attractive again, as compared to other forms of transport, especially road. Siim Kallas, EU responsible for Transport said: "Europe is faced with major challenges in terms of rising congestion and pollution. We need short sea shipping to fulfil its potential and provide a low cost, environmentally-friendly transport solution, taking more goods off lorries and off our congested roads"
The new proposal is supposed to “bring the single market to the seas”, EU Commissioner Algirdas Semeta, responsible for taxation and customs union declared. It includes measures to reduce costs, simplify administration, and customs' work in shipping.

Practically, it sets out two key proposals for easing of custom formalities for intra-EU shipping, as well as for ships that call in third country ports (almost 90% of ships carry both EU and non EU goods and stop frequently at EU and non-EU ports). For this last category, the Commission is proposing a system which can distinguish between the Union goods on board (which should be swiftly discharged) and the non-Union goods on board, which must go through the appropriate customs procedures.
For this purpose, the Commission will bring forward before the end of the year a proposal to create a harmonised electronic cargo declaration. This new "eManifest" allows the shipping company to provide in all manifests (intra-EU and extra-EU) information on the status of goods to customs officials.

It is expected that the “Blue Belt” will become a reality by 2015.

Source: European Commission