The logistics sector will lag behind if the EU does not regulate smarter, warned the Alliance for European Logistics (AEL) at a conference with legislators in the European Parliament transport committee last week.
As the new Commissioner for Transport and Space takes office in a few weeks’ time, industry representatives and MEPs outlined challenges and recommendations for the new Commission mandate
According to Frank Appel, CEO at Deutsche Post DHL, the EU has already lost competitiveness in the energy and technology sectors, and cannot afford to fall behind in the transport area.
“Cutting red tape is necessary to improve a smooth flow of goods,” said Alexander Kirschall, AEL Chairman.
One example is e-commerce, an EU law that establishes the rules for online buyers and sellers. While the law improves cross-border trade, obstacles still exist. One of AEL’s suggestions is to introduce simplified customs procedures and put in place a European eCustoms system.
“Reducing complexity in supply chain would reduce product costs and increase European competitiveness,” said Kirschall.
But it’s not only up to the EU legislator to make the sector innovative. The Commission encourages companies to make smart investments to increase their revenues and become more efficient.
One of AEL members recently established a regular rail freight connection between China and Europe according to Kirschall.
“This combination of rail and road transport leads to shorter delivery times – up to 21 days compared to maritime transport – and reduces CO2-emissions, in comparison to air freight of up to 90%,” Kirschall continued.
As both the Commission and the industry are interested in fostering such projects, AEL launched the idea to create a forum, such as the High Level Group on Logistics to share best practices and gather support from the Commission and the Parliament on future initiatives.
“The forum is a good opportunity to work on pragmatic legislation that takes the needs and obstacles of business into consideration,” said Kirschall.
Ismail Ertug MEP, the Socialists and Democrats’ transport committee coordinator, also said during the conference that he will support the creation of an intergroup on logistics in the European Parliament to work with stakeholders toward a cost-efficient and competitive transport policy.
“The highest degree of cooperation is certainly the way forward to guarantee a dynamic logistics sector that keeps our goods moving in an increasingly interconnected Europe,” said Ertug MEP.
While cooperation is important, Appel said the EU can foster innovation and leadership in the logistics sector only if the regulators recognize the critical role played by information technologies.
AEL represents all European logistics providers, users, and suppliers. It employs more than 7 million people in the EU and accounts for a market value of about €900 billion.
An integrated transport policy is seen as a precondition for the single market.
The EU transport market was gradually liberalised since 1992 when framework rules for access to the profession of road transport operators and for road safety measures were established in all member states.
In 2011, the European Commission published a White Paper on transport which set out new goals to achieve an integrated transport policy.
The strategy included initiatives such as ensuring mobility on congested road networks, further reducing road fatalities, and lowering CO2 and other emissions of pollutants from road transport.
With a new college of Commissioners taking office in 2014, the new Transport Commissioner will set forth its own agenda and goals.
In the mission letter sent by Commission President-elect Jean Claude Juncker, the Transport Commissioner will focus in the next five years on the Fourth Railway package, the Single European Sky policy, and Trans-European Transport Networks among others.
- EURACTIV France: La bureaucratie européenne pèse sur le secteur logistique