European Maritime Single Window environment:
Impact and timeline

The EMSWe (European Maritime Single Window environment) is arriving and entails significant changes for shipowners, port authorities, and national governments. What exactly is it, what is the impact, and when will this European regulation come into effect? Venturn investigates EMSWe and maps out the impact on various stakeholders in the maritime supply chain. 

The maritime supply chain generates and requires a lot of data. Among other things, it involves information about cargo, compliance, destination, origin, and more. Which data are exchanged and how it happens is subject to laws and regulations. Because these differ between countries and sometimes even between its ports, the EU introduced the European Maritime Single Window environment (EMSWe). A legal and technical framework for exchanging data in the maritime supply chain and harmonizing that data. 

What is EMSWe? 

Simply put, EMSWe is a European regulation for standardizing and simplifying data flows from shipowners to relevant authorities. The underlying idea is that data is provided only once and, when possible, always the same data. So, harmonization instead of the obligation of handing in different data in different ports repeatedly. This has numerous benefits, such as reducing administrative burdens for all parties, but also in terms of security. 

The scope of EMSWe is initially limited, which is evident from Venturn’s research, and involves speaking with various EMSWe experts. It emerges that the regulation, in its current form, pertains to 10 to 15 per cent of all data. This includes specific information about the ship, the itinerary, the persons on board, and the berthing place in various ports. However, it is likely that if the regulation is enforced and there are more legal possibilities, it will later be expanded to include more data to serve the regulation’s purpose: harmonization. 

Data exchange 

The basic principle of EMSWe is simple: a shipowner sends data to the member state’s National Single Window (NMSW), where a ship has a port call. Through an automatic link, this data also goes to the EMSWe. It has yet to be legally possible to share this data across the borders of member states, but for now, simplification of submitting data in each new port will be provided. Data is submitted anew in each port but always in the same format. As a result of the NMSW of 2010, much of the data exchange between shipowners and port authorities is already digital and highly automated. With EMSWe, this is further centralized. 

In addition to facilitating and centralizing data exchange, harmonization is an essential goal of EMSWe. It is also a practical consequence of centralization. When the shipowner provides data in only one format, it is essential that all port authorities require (more or less) the same data. This is called the “once-only” principle. The ultimate goal is to provide information only once for all ports falling within the EMSWe framework. 

RIM 

EMSWe has a legal component in determining which data are provided and made available to whom. There is a technical component to this. Currently, the Reporting Interface Module (RIM) is being developed. The RIM is the technical infrastructure on which this data exchange is to take place. It utilizes eDelivery, the secure data exchange platform developed by the EU. 

RIM is the key prerequisite for implementation. Once its integration into the various member states has been sufficiently tested and successfully implemented, EMSWe can theoretically begin. Testing of this system started in early 2024. 

Timeline 

The EMSWe regulation was adopted on August 15, 2019, with an intended implementation moment on August 15, 2025, precisely six years later. Due to various delays, that date is now uncertain, although the implementation itself is not. This is partly because there still needs to be visibility on realizing all prerequisites, RIM being one of them. Once the technical infrastructure is in place and functioning in all member states, the EU will determine a binding timeline for full implementation, likely including a period during which the current fragmented situation coexists alongside EMSWe harmonization to allow shipowners gradual adjustment to the system. This will be followed by a firm deadline with possible penalties for non-compliance. 

The direction is clear, but the timeframe is uncertain. It is certain, however, that shipowners, port companies, and other parties in the maritime supply chain will be affected by this change. The extent of this varies per organization. However, some changes will be expected, such as adjusting systems and infrastructure and undergoing training. 

Next steps 

There is still much that needs to become concrete about EMSWe. This will change in the coming months. Before then, we will delve deeper into the impact of EMSWe in other blogs and how Venturn and VYP (our Young Professionals training program) are mapping out the content and implications of EMSWe. 

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