On 10 October 2007, the European Commission announced that it had adopted a Communication and accompanying Action Plan setting out its vision for an IntegratedMaritime Policy for the EU. 90%of Europe’s external trade and close to 40%of its internal trade passes through the EU’s ports, but as EU sea-related activities are dealt with in a sector by sector manner, there is currently a lack of a coherent and comprehensive overall strategy.

A key element of the Commission’s Action Plan is to abolish customs controls for goods moving between ports in the EU. Unlike road hauliers which benefit to a large extent fromfree circulation within the EU, there are no intra-EU journeys for shipping companies as customs authorities consider that any cargo that voyages fromone EU port to another as international. According to Alfons Gunier, of the European Community Shipowners’ Association, this means that “cargo travelling between EU ports still goes through a lot of time-consuming and complex procedures”.