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European Commission


Vice-President of the European Commission

Easing customs formalities for shipping

Press conference, Brussels

8 July 2013

Europe is faced with major challenges in terms of rising congestion and pollution.

Shipping can provide a low cost, environmentally-friendly transport solution- taking more goods off Europe's congested roads.

But at the moment, only about a third of freight moving within the EU is carried by sea.

Almost 50% is carried by road.

Industry complain that they are forced to send goods by road, because a heavy administrative burden causes long delays in ports and makes shipping unattractive.

Ships can sometimes wait for hours or even days in ports for customs clearance.

We need to lighten this load.

Today, with my colleague Commissioner Šemeta we are proposing 2 key measures to ease customs formalities in ports.

- For intra-EU shipping, we want to upgrade the procedures already in place to make them shorter and more flexible.

- For ships that call also in third country ports, we want to separate EU and the non EU goods on board. This will significantly lighten the customs formalities needed.

In May this year, I presented a ports policy review - to improve port operations and onward transport connections at 319 key seaports along Europe’s coastline.

These customs measures are complementary and will further improve the efficiency of services Europe's ports.

We urgently need to put maritime transport on an equal footing with other forms of transport.

The days when lorries, or trains faced customs checks and controls as they moved within Europe's Single Market are long gone.

So it make no sense that today, a ship traveling from Antwerp to Rotterdam, has the same customs formalities as if it were coming from China.

Today, we are taking another step to making barriers to free movement of goods a thing of the past for shipping too.

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