18 May 2018

CLECAT welcomes step towards Paperless Transport

CLECAT has welcomed the third Mobility Package including two important legislative initiatives which will create a digital environment for information exchange in transport, benefiting both the business community and the authorities. The Commission is proposing to establish a fully digital environment for information exchange in freight transport, replacing paper transport documents, which will facilitate digital information flows for logistic operations. 

Freight forwarders and logistics service providers support a move to a fully digital transport environment across all modes of transport providing the potential to improve efficiency, reliability and potentially reduce costs in freight transport logistics. CLECAT, as an active member of the Digital Transport and Logistics Forum (DTLF), a Commission expert group and through this Forum, was able to steer the discussions, in particular over the last year, towards more concrete initiatives and recommendations in support of paperless transport.  Nicolette van der Jagt, Director General of CLECAT said: ‘Requiring acceptance of electronic formats for transport information as legally equivalent to paper format by enforcement authorities is a sine qua non. We are glad that the Commission has now taken concrete action to tackle authorities’ different degrees of acceptance of information of documents made available electronically by business.’ [1] 

Dominique Willems, CLECAT’s manager for digitalisation added: ‘One of the major steps forward is that the initiative is about electronic transport information and not about documents anymore. In the conventions and regulations of the past decades paper documents served as a means of exchanging data/information and therefore the processes for exchanging information were also based on the limited possibilities paper documents provide. Current and future technology provide ways to fully rethink these processes and create tangible efficiency benefits and new opportunities. We are very pleased to see that this way of thinking is fully reflected in the Commission’s proposal’. 

CLECAT is equally pleased to see that many of its recommendations have been taken on board by the Commission in its revision of the Regulation for a European Maritime Single Window.[2]  We are confident that this pan-EU legislative initiative can ensure that electronic communication is possible in all Member States and for all relevant authorities in those Member States. Most important is that this can happen in a harmonised way, whereby a common data set is also enforced. Also, in this initiative the focus is on the exchange of data for the B2A and A2A communication. 

‘There is a strong desire amongst industry stakeholders[3] to ensure the revision is a success, all having the ambition to secure EU harmonised reporting for ships, the establishment of a maximum dataset and the efficient re-use of data. We are therefore encouraged that the current proposal will be supported by Member States, noted Ms van der Jagt. 

She added: ‘Clearly, for freight forwarders and customs agents, sharing and re-using data is part of their core business, either because of legal requirements or because of customers’ or other supply chain partners’ demands and wishes. We therefore welcome this initiative which encourages and supports the sharing and re-use of data. There is still a lot of work to be done by all parties involved. However, we are confident that this will lead in the long term to less administrative burden and a positive case for business. 

CLECAT will continue to review the proposals in more detail and looks forward to discussions on its positions with the Council and the European Parliament, in support of future implementation.

[1] https://ec.europa.eu/transport/sites/transport/files/3rd-mobility-pack/com20180279-proposal.pdf

[2] https://ec.europa.eu/transport/sites/transport/files/3rd-mobility-pack/com20180278-proposal.pdf

[3] Together with the European Associations of the Private Port Companies and Terminals, Sea Ports, Ship Brokers and Agents, Port Community Systems and Shippers, CLECAT published a joint position paper on the Ship Reporting Formalities Directive