Transport & Logistics Developments

   The EU e-Freight Initiative

The Freight Logistics Action Plan[1] was launched by the European Commission, amongst a number of policy initiatives, to help Europe address key transport challenges including:

    ·          Sustainable Quality and Efficiency

·          Simplification of Transport Chains

·          “Green” Freight Transport Corridors

·          Urban Freight Logistics

·          Vehicle Dimensions and Loading Standards


The Freight Logistics Action Plan relies on co-modality and on advanced technology to provide a competitive European surface freight transport[2] system whilst promoting environmental sustainability.

In this context, the notion of e-Freight was introduced as a means to support electronic exchange of information in business to business and business to administration relations.  e-Freight is also part of the Action Plan for the Deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)[3] in Europe.


"e-freight", denotes the vision of paperless freight transport processes where an electronic flow of information is linked to the physical flow of goods. Specific objectives include:

·          Administrative simplification across transport modes.

·          Standardisation of information exchanges relating to location and other cargo information.

·          Development of secure ways of making supply chain information (including “en route” information on the location and condition of transported goods) available on-line to customs, other regulatory authorities and businesses.

·          Development of practical ways of using positioning and communication technologies (e.g. radio frequency identification - RFID, Dedicated Short Range Communication - DSRC, and applications of the EGNOS/Galileo satellite positioning system).

·          Improved integration and interoperability of computer applications used by different stakeholders involved in freight transport

·          Synergistic development with the e-Maritime and other related EU initiatives.


e-Freight related developments are expected to lead in the future to “Intelligent Cargo”, meaning that goods will become self-context and location-aware as well as connected to a wide range of information services thus automating further the transportation management process.


The key issues to be addressed include:

1.     To enable transport users (shippers, freight forwarders, etc) to identify and use direct or combined transport services most suited for their purpose we need open freight transport e-market places[4]. This is dependent on transport service providers publishing their services in the internet in a manner that can readily be used by independent web based transport management systems.

2.     To achieve efficient use of the different transport modes on their own and in combination (co-modality), stakeholders need improved means to strategically manage networks, plan shipments and to control the implementation of such strategies and plans.  For this, transport stakeholders need  to establish common end-to-end transportation processes incorporating regulations compliance and ‘intelligent’ monitoring and control.   

3.     A prerequisite for the development of a European network of integrated transport chains, linking road, rail and waterborne resources in an optimum way is the simplification and harmonisation of regulatory requirements across modes and EU States. For this solutions for the Single Transport Document[5] in line with the Freight Transport Logistics Action Plan are needed . Further Next Generation Single Windows [6] need to be developed to streamline cargo and traffic information exchange between authorities and between authorities and other stakeholders and to support improved European capabilities to protect the environment as well as the security of freight transport networks.

[1] Communication from the Commission COM 2007 / The EU's freight transport agenda: Boosting the efficiency, integration and sustainability of freight transport in Europe COM(2007) 606 final

[2]  Approximately 70% of all cargo is transported in intermodal shipping containers representing approximately 240 million container moves in any given year, of which 150 million occur on major shipping routes.

[3] Action Plan for the Deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems in Europe COM(2008) 886 final.

[4] An e-marketplace is an electronic exchange where firms register as sellers or buyers to communicate and conduct business over the Internet.  For example, firms representing each section in a supply-chain could join an e-marketplace to transfer information and purchase services.    

[5] A transport document is required today to follow the carriage of goods (Reg. 11/60 and Directive 92/106/EC);    According to the Freight Transport Logistics Action Plan, a Single European  Transport Document will be established that can be used in all transport modes enhancing the framework offered by multimodal waybills or multimodal manifests

[6] A Single Window is “a facility that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardised information with a single entry point to fulfil all import, export, and transit-related regulatory requirements”  - UN Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business.  

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   Glossary Terms


According to EU Freight Logistics Action Plan, "e-freight", denotes the vision of a paper-free, electronic flow of information associating the physical flow of goods with a paperless trail built by ICT. It includes the ability to track and trace freight along its journey across transport modes and to automate the exchange of information for regulatory or commercial purposes.
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freight-forwarding services
Freight Forwarding and Logistic Services" means services of any kind relating to the carriage (performed by single mode or multimodal transport means), consolidation, storage, handling, packing or distribution of the Goods as well as ancillary and advisory services in connection therewith, including but not limited to customs and fiscal matters, declaring the Goods for official purposes, procuring insurance of the Goods and collecting or procuring payment or documents relating to the Goods. by CLECAT & FIATA
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  Additional Information for The EU e-Freight Initiative
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  The Needs of Shippers & Logistics Operators re. Maritime Services in Intermodal Chains
Supply chain integration and intelligent logistics

The EU e-Maritime Initiative
   Related Documents
Common Framework Description.pdf
E-freight initiatives_EIA overview.pdf
clecats_Logistics Best Practice Guide v2.pdf
CLECAT RottRules.pdf
e-freight-vision-and-mandate-june 2010.pdf
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   Lessons Learned
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   Information Sources
  PEPPOL EU Public Procurement
Intelligent Cargo Forum
ESC European Shippers' Council
CLECAT reply to the Commission's public consultation on the upcoming Strategic Transport Technology Plan (STTP).
Freight Ferry
Container market
The European Green Cars Initiative
ERFA, the “European Rail Freight Association”,
ERFA, the “European Rail Freight Association”,
CLECAT European Association for Forwarding, Transport, Logistic and Customs Services
Access to markets for SMEs
WCO - The World Customs Organization
UNECE Transport - United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
Europe 2020
European Transport Registry
Freight Transport Association FTA
ISO / TC 204 for intelligent transport systems (ITS)
GFP - Global Facilitation Partnership for Transportation and Trade
Freightwise Framework
EIA - European Intermodal Association
GS1 Logistics Interoperability Model (LIM)
IATA e-Freight
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   Related Projects
   Related Policies
  A common information sharing environment for the EU maritime domain
Freight Transport Logistics Action Plan - COM (2007) 607
   Related Products
  DESCARTES - Supply Chain Management Software: Network, Applications, Community
PTV Intelligence Intermodal
IBM Transport Solutions
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