ECSA has been advised of and very much welcomes the fact that EU Member States have recently endorsed the Commission's proposal to grant further customs facilitations to shipping companies operating ships with the status of Regular Shipping Service. This decision was made in the context of the Blue Belt discussions, which aim at creating a level playing field for maritime transport versus other modes of transport.
Union goods carried onboard ships with a status of Regular Shipping Service maintain their Union status when leaving a Member State's port for discharge at another Member State's port. The status is granted by customs to a shipping company that has made a specific application for it and it is restricted to ships that operate solely between ports located in EU Member States.
Although it contained already some customs advantages, shipping companies meeting the conditions for a Regular Shipping Service status refrained from making an application because of the bureaucratic nature of the application procedure.
However, under the new rules, which will enter into force on 1 March 2014, the Regular Shipping Service status will become more attractive. Firstly, the consultation period following an application will be reduced from 45 to 15 days. Secondly, shipping companies will have the possibility to add from the beginning also potential future Member States' ports to the list of ports to be served by a Regular Shipping Service.