On Jan. 1, 2011, the European Union is expected to implement the most significant change to European customs regulation in 60 years. This is intended to arrange for security screening of all shipments being transported in or out of the EU, as well as shipments transiting the EU.
Ocean carriers have been developing their systems and processes to meet the different technical specifications and requirements issued by each EU member state, and have been working to educate shippers around the world about the implications of these new rules. All hope for a smooth implementation process that will result in a uniform and consistent approach across the EU.
Meanwhile, discussion continues at the International Maritime Organization regarding shipping’s greenhouse gas emissions. The IMO has established a credible record in developing effective international mechanisms to address vessel air emissions that are harmful to human health, such as sulfur oxide and nitrogen oxide. Regulation of carbon emissions has proved more challenging.
In 2011, the IMO will decide whether to establish mandatory vessel efficiency standards for newbuilds. It will also become clearer whether the IMO can do more to regulate carbon emissions. If it does not, the prospects for carbon regulatory initiatives at the regional and national level are likely to increase, particularly in Europe.
Finally, the United States still lacks a national strategic plan for goods movement, and has not been able to pass much-needed, multiple-year legislation outlining programs in the national interest and provide for related funding. Old programs and funding levels are simply carried forward using short-term extensions. This forces each state to develop its own plan, its own priorities and, to a large extent, its own funding sources.
Optimists in the transportation community continue to hope this patchwork approach to the U.S. transportation network will be replaced by a new multiyear national surface transportation bill in 2011.