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Freight transport logistics action plan

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Freight transport logistics action plan

This freight logistics action plan is one of a series of policy initiatives by the European Commission to improve the efficiency and sustainability of freight transport in the European Union (EU). It proposes a number of actions that will help to ensure that the EU’s freight transport system is competitive and sustainable.


Communication of 18 October 2007 from the Commission: Freight Transport Logistics Action Plan [COM (2007) 607 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


Freight transport logistics policy focuses on the planning, organisation, management, control and execution of freight transport operations in the supply chain. This communication follows the previous Communication on Freight Transport Logistics in 2006.


e-Freight and Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)

Advanced information and communication technologies (ICT) can contribute towards co-modality by improving infrastructure, traffic and fleet management, facilitating a better tracking and tracing of goods across the transport networks and better connecting businesses and administrations. The Commission proposes to develop a plan for the implementation of e-freight, which consists of a paper-free, electronic flow of information, including the ability to track and trace freight along its journey across different transport modes. The practicality and affordability of this will be improved by emerging technologies such as radio frequency identification (RFID) and the use of the Galileo satellite positioning system. In future this could lead to an “Internet for cargo” where information would be securely available on-line.

This communication also proposes the implementation of “e-maritime”, a system for the maritime exchange of information between ship and shore, using services such as SafeSeaNet, Long-range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) and Automatic Identification System (AIS). This will enhance the integration of maritime transport with other transport modes by ensuring improved safety and navigation and logistics operations.

Sustainable quality and efficiency

Operational, infrastructure-related and administrative bottlenecks provide obstacles that impede freight transport logistics in Europe. The Commission therefore proposes to continue the search for practical solutions to bottlenecks, while considering legal action where needed.

Shortages of skilled personnel in many areas of freight transport logistics means that the EU must increase the attractiveness of transport logistics professions and encourage mobility of staff across borders. The Commission will work with the European social partners and other relevant stakeholders to establish a framework, including a list of minimum qualifications and training requirements, to ensure the mutual recognition of training certificates.

The Commission proposes to establish a set of generic performance indicators for freight transport logistics chains, which would not only be useful for encouraging service quality but also to measure environmental and social impacts. This would encourage more efficient and sustainable forms of transport and generally improve transport logistics performance.

To improve the efficiency of intermodal terminals, including ports and airports, the EU should develop, together with industry, a set of generic benchmarks which could then be incorporated into a code or best practice or recommendation.

A lack of knowledge of the benefits of alternative modes of transport, integration between transport modes and the additional costs of transhipment could all be reasons why multimodal freight transport is still relatively underused. This could be changed with the promotion and exchange of best practice and the provision of practical assistance. The Commission therefore proposes to extend the role of the Shortsea Promotion Centres into inland transport logistics and to promote industry initiatives to exchange experience and best practice.

Simplification of transport chains

The simplification of exchanges of freight-related information, by creating a ‘single window’ access point and a ‘one stop shop’ for administrative procedures in all transport modes, could substantially reduce the cost of compliance with regulatory requirements for the logistics industry. The Commission will also make a legislative proposal on simplifying and facilitating short sea shipping towards a maritime transport space without barriers. A single transport document for all carriage of goods on any transport mode could facilitate multimodal freight transport. The Commission will therefore examine the possibilities and added value of this document.

Vehicle dimensions and loading standards

European legislation sets general limitations for vehicle dimensions and weights in international road traffic and for dimensions in national traffic, but it does leave a certain margin of flexibility for EU countries which creates inconsistency for operators and makes enforcement more difficult. This communication suggests the possibility of reviewing and updating the current legislation in this area and proposes the development of new standards for loading units to be used across all transport modes.

“Green” transport corridors for freight

Transport corridors are marked by a concentration of freight traffic between major hubs and by relatively long distances of transport. Green transport corridors would reflect an integrated transport concept where short sea shipping, rail, inland waterways and road complement each other to enable environmentally friendly transport options. The Commission proposes to reinforce green corridors within the Trans-European Transport Network and the Marco Polo programme, as well as to cooperate with authorities and freight transport logistics operators in order to identify improvements to ensure adequate infrastructure for sustainable transport.

Urban freight transport logistics

Freight transport logistics has an essential urban dimension. This communication therefore suggests reinforcing the freight part of the CIVITAS Initiative towards an improved integration between passenger and freight transport and between interurban (long-distance) and urban transport logistics.

Last updated: 17.10.2011