EU Maritime Transport Policies

   Action plans
  SSS Programme

In September 2001 the Commission presented its "White Paper on European Transport Policy for 2010: time to decide" which set a number of targets to ensure competitiveness and sustainability of mobility in 2010. Short Sea Shipping was given a key role in reaching these targets by helping to curb the increase in heavy goods vehicle traffic to assist bypassing land bottlenecks, and support sustainable development.

The political conviction that Short Sea Shipping is a priority for the European Union was also reconfirmed in the informal meeting of the European Union Transport Ministers in June 2002 in Gijón, Spain.


The Programme for promoting Short Sea Shipping consists of 14 SSS Promotional Actions are specified and elaborated in the following publications:

·    “Programme for the Promotion of Short Sea Shipping” COM(2003) 155,

·    Mid-Term Review of the Programme for the Promotion of Short Sea Shipping” COM(2006) 380

There is a further informative in the draft report on the promotion of SSS from the European Parliament, reference 2004/2161(INI).


The 14 SSS Promotional Actions can be summarized as follows

Legislative Actions

Technical Actions

Operational Actions

Implementation of the IMO-FAL directive on ship reporting.

Implementation of the Marco Polo programme.

Standardisation of intermodal loading units.

Motorways of the Sea. Improving environmental performance of SSS.



Guide to customs procedures for SSS.

Identification & elimination of obstacles to SSS.

Computerisation of Community Customs procedures.

RTD measures

One-stop administrative shops.

Securing the role of SSS Focal Points.

Ensuring good functioning of SS Promotion Centres.

Promotion of SSS as a successful transport alternative.

Collection of statistical information


In the Mid-Term Review of the Programme for the Promotion of Short Sea Shipping (COM(2003) 155 final, it was concluded that a number of obstacles still hinder Short Sea Shipping from developing faster:

·    It has not yet reached full integration in the multimodal door-to-door supply chain;

·    It involves complex administrative procedures;

·    It requires higher port efficiency and good hinterland accessibility.


Regarding progress on the 14 actions:

·    Three action sheets, as they were presented in the 2003 Promotion Programme, have been almost or fully completed: IMO FAL, Motorways of the Sea, and Short-sea Customs Guide. New targets with new deadlines have been set for the first two. The third one has been merged with other ongoing actions.

·    In certain cases, there is a need to target the action more precisely than earlier (integrating Short Sea Shipping tighter in the logistics supply chain) or add a new target (extending the scope of Short Sea Promotion Centres to cover inland supply chains).

·    Separate efforts will also need to continue in the ports sector to make Short Sea Shipping even more efficient and competitive in the logistics chain than it is today.


The Commission has recently updated its strategic goals and recommendations for the EU Maritime Transport Policy until 2018. The ongoing programme describes legislative, technical and operational initiatives which are aimed at developing Short Sea Shipping at EU, national, regional and industry levels.  In addition, the establishment of a "European maritime transport space without barriers" should help to boost short sea services in all maritime regions. This concept would ensure a reduction of the administrative formalities, in particular customs formalities that apply today to the intra-EU seaborne trades and that do not apply to similar road transport services.

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   Related Documents
  Programme for the promotion of SSS com2003_0155en01.pdf
mid-term SSS com_2006_0380_en.pdf
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