Weighing of containers: urgent EU action needed

As from 1 July 2016, the amendment to the SOLAS convention, which prescribes that all packed shipping containers need to have a verified gross mass (VGM) before they can be loaded on a ship for export, comes into force. According to European organizations such as CLECAT, ESC, ESPO and FEPORT, Member States should pursue a coordinated European approach to ensure that the implementation of such new legal requirement does not distort competition by creating a patchwork of varying national measures.

As stated in the Joint statement submitted by the aforementioned organizations, future EU guidelines should clarify the tolerance applying to weighing equipment and common standards for the certification of shippers approved to issue VGM certificates. As regards shippers’ obligations, they should always inform the carrier and the terminal operator about the VGM and any other relevant information.  Carriers and terminal operators should not be held responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the VGM provided by the shipper. Indeed, all actors are entitled to rely on the VGM declared by the shipper, and if no VGM has been established, a container should not be loaded on a vessel.