The EU is making the transport sector more efficient by making it easier for businesses to provide information to authorities in digital form. The Council on 6 June agreed on its position ('general approach') on the proposal establishing a uniform legal framework for the use of electronic freight transport information in all modes of transport.
Under the Council's general approach, all relevant public authorities will be required to accept information made available electronically on certified platforms whenever companies choose to use such a format to provide information as proof of compliance with legislative requirements. However, companies will still be able to present the information in paper format if they prefer to do so.
In the three years following the entry into force of the new rules, the Commission will adopt common technical specifications to ensure interoperability between the various IT systems and solutions used for the exchange of freight transport information. The specifications will also set out common procedures and detailed rules for the access and processing of that information by the authorities to ensure that the rules are applied in a uniform manner.
At present, most freight transport companies and other transport business stakeholders use paper documents. The main barrier to the wider use of digital transport documents is the rather low and variable degree of acceptance by different authorities of digital documents. There is no coherent legal framework, and a large number of different, non-interoperable IT systems are used for information exchange.
The Council has introduced a number of clarifications to the text prepared by the Commission, for example regarding the scope, requirements and responsibilities of all parties involved. It has simplified member states' monitoring and reporting responsibilities, and extended the transition period from four to six years.
The Commission presented the proposal in May 2018 under the third 'Europe on the move' package.
The text approved 6 June is the Council's position in respect of negotiations with the European Parliament. Both the Council and Parliament will need to approve the final text.