April 22 - A collective appeal has been made to national authorities by European shippers, freight forwarders, port authorities and terminal operators for a coordinated implementation of the International Maritime Organization's SOLAS convention, which re

"Supply chain actors and national authorities should work towards commonly accepted guidelines in order to minimise distortion of competition and ensure smooth functioning of the SOLAS requirements," according to the statement issued by the Federation of European Private Port Operators, CLECAT (the European freight forwarding association), European Sea Ports Organization and the European Shippers Council.

Each of the four organisations has campaigned for a coordinated approach to the new regulation, with little success amid growing concerns in the industry over the potential for disruption and distortion of competition in the supply chain from July 1.

The joint statement focuses on national guidelines for the two methods of weighing containers: Method 1, which requires that the container is weighed after it has been packed, and Method 2, which requires weighing all the cargo and packing materials in the container and adding them to the container's tare weight.

The groups said European governments should focus on two main elements: tolerances applying to weighing equipment and the certification of those shippers approved to use verified gross mass certificates using Method 2.

"National authorities need to be aware that excessive requirements can have an adverse impact on the logistics chain," the statement said.

An over-reliance on weighbridges for Method 1 risks creating unnecessary bottlenecks that could be avoided by using other devices, such as spreader mounted weighing devices.

An over-complicated system for the regulation of Methods 1 and 2 could also lead to delays in their authorisation.

The statement adds that to avoid market distortions, European governments must adopt similar standards on certification that are not overly restrictive and do not have an adverse impact on the functioning of the logistics chain.

"So as to ensure transparency and certainty for all actors in the supply chain, evidence should be available when required of the shipper's authorisation to provide a verified gross mass (VGM)."

The associations added that European authorities should also aim for a flexible tolerance level for weighing equipment that takes into account differences that may occur through natural weight variations, inaccurate tare weights on official plates, or through the use of different equipment, so as to not create blockages to the supply chain by unduly refusing carriage, while also not jeopardising safety and therefore the purpose of the rules.