The concept of a single point interaction between businesses and authorities is commonly termed Single Window (SW). SWs are implemented at national level (NSWs) or at EU or International level. Although Single Window concepts and solutions were first developed for trade facilitation (Customs) in recent years significant progress has been made with transport centred Single Windows linked to sea traffic monitoring and port clearance (Maritime authorities).
Ongoing developments in e-Freight and eMAR projects are aimed at rationalising and harmonising these two main development streams.
Directive 2010/65/EU (commonly known as the ‘FAL Directive’) mandates EU Member States to accept the fulfilment of ship reporting formalities in electronic format and their transmission via a single window as soon as possible but no later than 1st of June 2015. EU Member States preparing for the implementation of the directive are naturally considering interactions between the different modes of transport maritime, aviation, rail, road, inland navigation and cargo / passenger perspectives.
National Single Windows need to address fundamentally three aspects:
Facilitation of business compliance to applicable regulations
Acquisition and exchange of information between national authorities
Information exchange with external systems
A NSW will contain a National Data Set (NDS) which should be aligned to other trade and economic development policy decisions about the manner in which government requires and uses official and regulatory information. An NDS is normally the result of a simplification and standardisation exercise and should be aligned with Government strategy on the way in which the National Data Set will be used, particularly with respect to:
interaction with other national, European and international systems
use for trade facilitation as well as for safety, security and environmental risk management
Over 30 countries from all regions of the world have introduced a Single window facility and have achieved considerable advantage through the reduction of time and resources in preparing, presenting and processing regulatory information. Equally, Single Windows often result in reduced trade transaction costs, improved compliance and associated increase in government revenues, and more efficient and effective border management and control.
A crucial conclusion in UNICE recommendations, which has been validated by many recent reports is that:
the most important prerequisites for the successful implementation of a Single Window are the political will of the government and the relevant authorities and the full engagement of the business community.
Also important is the legal framework, including privacy laws and security rules in the exchange of information; businesses demand complete protection and control of their data. However, different national laws on data privacy and security issues create complexities in the implementation of NSWs which must be addressed at an early design stage.