Electronic freight transport information
Road freight transport is accompanied by a large amount of information and data exchange which is still produced in paper format. A shift towards an electronic freight transport information system would bring significant benefits for road transport operators, including:
- Reduced administrative burden
- Faster and more accurate exchange of information between the different parties involved
- More effective enforcement
- Lower costs and greater transparency
The uptake of electronic forms for freight data in the EU has been rather slow to date owing to the lack of a uniform legal framework and the myriad of incompatible IT solutions available on the market.
IRU therefore welcomes the European Commission’s efforts to remove these barriers to efficient freight information exchange. Regulation represents the right tool to achieving EU-wide acceptance of electronic freight transport information.
Alignment with international conventions
The European Commission’s proposal should include requirements to ensure alignment with the relevant international conventions applicable to the territory of the European Union, such as the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road (CMR Convention).
Goods companies, drivers and those receiving shipments use a CMR consignment note to present information regarding the shipped goods and the transporting and receiving parties. In February 2008, an additional protocol was added to the CMR Convention providing for the electronic management of the carriage of goods via an electronic consignment note system (e-CMR). So far, only half of the EU Member States have implemented this protocol.
The European Commission’s proposal thus represents an opportunity to further encourage all EU Member States to ratify the e-CMR protocol.
The European Commission proposal provides flexibility for Member States in their implementation of these new rules on electronic freight transport information.
However, guarantees must be put in place to ensure alignment, compatibility and seamless interoperability among current and future information systems and applications used by the transport industry, national governments, and local and regional authorities. Steps must be taken to ensure the smooth continuation of international and multimodal operations.
Data protection and certification
Guaranteeing commercial data protection is of utmost importance. Access to such data should be time-limited and restricted to the competent enforcement authorities.
Solutions and platforms must also be certified so as to ensure data security, interoperability of electronic freight transport data sets and compliance with the e-CMR protocol. Certification should be independent and countries should not favour their own solution providers.