The European Port Community Systems Association (EPCSA) is determined to keep its focus on the important issues and maintain close contact with officers and decision-makers in the European Commission, according to the association’s new chairman and vice-chairman.
Alan Long, managing director of Felixstowe-based Maritime Cargo Processing (MCP), has been appointed chairman of EPCSA, and Piet Jan ten Thije, strategy and business director of Rotterdam-based Portbase, is the new vice chairman of the association.
“As we move forward, we must build on what we have started and already achieved,” said Alan Long. “We will continue to develop our relationship with DG Taxud and DG Move, as well as with the United Nations, the World Customs Organization, the European Maritime Safety Association (EMSA) and other European and international organisations in order to get our message across.”
The creation of EPCSA less than two years ago has given Port Community Systems a real voice in Europe. In essence, EPCSA’s mission is to explain the vital role that Port Community Systems (neutral, open electronic platforms enabling intelligent and secure exchange of information) already play in the supply chain, and to ensure that European decision-makers do not ‘reinvent the wheel’ when moving towards a Single Windows environment for the electronic reporting of data.
For Alan Long, taking over as chairman of EPCSA coincides with 30 years of working in the Port Community Systems industry. In January 1983 he was part of the UK Customs project team that helped to lay the foundations for FCP 80, the predecessor of MCP.
“I am hoping to use my experience to support those looking to create a Port Community System,” he said. “Our advice would always be – start small and develop the system from there, ideally so that it can finance itself. Too many people want something very complicated straight away when they would be better off starting with something a lot simpler.” EPCSA’s liaison with the EC is the most important and dominant priority, according to new vice chairman Piet-Jan ten Thije, who worked with P&O Nedlloyd and as global director e-commerce with Maersk Line before joining Portbase. “We want to make ourselves THE credible party to refer to in all matters regarding Port Community Systems and also, in the discussion about maritime Single Windows, we need to press home Port Community Systems as the established way of doing business in Europe.
“There is simply a lack of knowledge in this area – we need to help the authorities understand what Port Community Systems already do, so they can avoid unnecessary duplications in development. They could otherwise end up bypassing Port Community Systems and spending millions of Euros of taxpayers’ money that they don’t need to spend.”
EPCSA will also continue to develop its membership, said Piet-Jen ten Thije. He added: “It is vital that we stick to what we are here for and not get distracted by getting involved in peripheral topics.”
The new chairman and vice chairman take over from Pascal Ollivier, director of corporate development at SOGET (France), who was EPCSA’s founding chairman, and Evelyn Eggers, sales department director at DAKOSY (Germany), who was vice chairman.
Looking back on his time as chairman, Pascal Ollivier highlighted two major achievements by EPCSA: gaining recognition from international organisations of the importance of Port Community Systems in the Single Window environment and focusing strongly on communications with DG Taxud about ICS (Import Control System) phase 2 and Directive 2010/65 on ships reporting formalities.
“We started really from nowhere in terms of international organizations’ understanding about Port Community Systems,” he said. “The European Commission, United Nations and World Customs Organization were our three main targets and in less than two years they all understand the value proposition of PCSs. “At the end of 2011, the UN statement following its Global Trade Facilitation Conference in Geneva clearly recognised that Port Community Systems are a type of Single Window for the supply chain environment. That was a major achievement. Then more recently, at the European Union’s e-Maritime conference in Brussels (November 2012), there was clear recognition from the EC that Port Community Systems could be the foundation infrastructure in the e-maritime environment.”