Trade and transport related authorities have established an extensive range of agency-specific and country specific regulatory and operational requirements for international trade and transport with little coordination amongst each other, either at the national, European, or international level. As a result traders and transport operators face complex and duplicative reporting requirements and governments and businesses have to develop and maintain different systems to meet these requirements.
|This problem has become more acute in recent years with the requirements for advanced trade and transport notifications for security purposes, and the competitiveness requirements for interoperability in international supply chains.
The “Single Window” is designed to overcome inefficiencies in mandatory reporting and regulatory control.
The two development streams of trade facilitation (mainly customs) and transport related reporting and surveillance (particularly maritime authorities) have been developing independently but are now begin to move in unison.
The concept of Single Window was introduced by United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) to enhance the efficient exchange of information between trade and government.
According to UNECE (Economic Commission for Europe) Single Window is a facility that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardized information and documents with a single entry point to fulfil all import, export, and transit-related regulatory requirements. If information is electronic then individual data elements should only be submitted once. In practical terms, the Single Window aims to expedite and simplify information flows between trade and government and bring meaningful gains to all parties involved in cross-border trade.
In the context of the European eCustoms and the Modernised Customs Code programme (Initiative coordinated by DG TAXUD), Single Windows are foreseen to enable economic operators to lodge electronically and once only all information required by customs and non-customs legislation for EU cross-border movements of goods. National Single Window systems are to be developed in all Member States which should be interoperable between themselves and with EU centrally-managed systems. The single administrative document, SAD, provides the documentary basis for customs declarations in the EU and in Switzerland, Norway and Iceland.
Maritime transport Single Windows
In the maritime transport sector, in parallel to trade related use of Single Windows as described above, the concept of Single Window has been used for some time now initially as Port Single Window to facilitate port state control reporting and more recently as National Single Windows (NSWs) to provide a single national interface for mandatory reporting by ships in European waters. The latter relates to Directive 2009/17/EC, in the framework of the Third Maritime Safety package, modifying Directive 2002/59/EC for establishing a Community vessel traffic monitoring and information system (the "VTM Directive"). One of the main objectives of the amended Directive is to guarantee that all Member States will be interconnected via the Community maritime information exchange system SafeSeaNet (SSN), in order to obtain a complete overview of the movements of ships and dangerous or polluting cargoes in European waters. Development pathways of NSWs differ from country to country but invariably are linked to Port Single Windows which in turn are increasingly linked with Port Community Systems (PCS). Finland is a pioneer in the deployment of national infrastructure implementing the single window concept. The Finnish system PortNet is operational since 1993. The system is operated by the Finnish Maritime Administration (which is the designated NCA for SSN). Since 2000 a XML & web user interface has been implemented while (PortNet 2 has been introduced since 2009. All the Finnish ports are linked to the system. PortNet provides direct input to the SSN without involving any other actors. 40000 port call notices and 70000 cargo notices are received annually. The central role of National Single Windows in the context of the EU Vessel traffic monitoring and information system (VTM Directive) has been investigated by the MarNIS project.Under MarNIS, each member State maintains a National Single Window (acting as the SSN national node ), receiving notifications from ships intending to enter a port in its waters and ensuring the directed distribution of derived messages to the port, other authorities (such as customs, immigration etc.) as well as handling requests for information or clarification. The NSW is the contact point within the total SSN+ structure and ensures that the appropriate information is in the first place made available within the index server and secondly available to requesting authorities from other member States.
The e-Freight Single Window challenge
The main challenge is to establish a concept for Next Generation Single Windows addressing the goals of co-modality facilitating:
1. Vehicle and cargo reporting irrespective of transport mode.
2. Interoperability between national and EU Single Windows and Platforms to support surveillance and co-operation between administrations in security, safety and environmental risk management.
We cannot expect all EU and international authorities to conform to a single process to work with a Single Window approach. And we cannot expect them to seriously disrupt their current processes and practices to adopt the same processes. Nor we can expect them to seriously overhaul or replace their current IT systems to achieve the same.
Single Window support from the e-Freight Platform needs to be non intrusive and almost transparent in its function.