About this consultation

Consultation period
25 October 2017 - 18 January 2018

Consultation outcome

State of play and barriers to the use of electronic transport documents for freight transport: Options for EU level policy interventions.

Target group

All citizens and organisations are welcome to contribute to this consultation.

The consultation can be of particular interest to public authorities in the transport sector, as well as customs, fiscal authorities and law enforcement, shipping companies, transport and logistics companies, ITS/telecommunication service providers, trade unions, NGOs and interest organisations (consumer/ environmental/ safety organisations, etc), researchers and academia, consumers passengers and other interested citizens.

Objective of the consultation

The aim of this public consultation is to gather the views and concerns of all interested citizens, organisations and businesses on the use of electronic freight transport documents, in order to inform the Commission's analysis on the following key elements of the impact assessment:

  • reasons why transport documents in electronic format are not as yet more widely used;
  • how big may be the missed potential benefits;
  • possible measures to support the wide use of electronic transport documents among all transport and logistics stakeholders; and
  • expected impacts of these measures.

The questionnaire is built in a way to allow the non-initiated audience to voice their views.

How to submit your response

You can contribute to this public consultation by filling in the online questionnaire. In order to allow the Commission to best understand your position, you are welcome to elaborate on your answers in the dedicated text boxes foreseen for this purpose.

The questionnaire is accessible in most official EU languages. You can submit your reply in any of the 23 official EU languages. The questionnaire takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes to complete.

You may pause at any time and continue later. Once you have submitted your answers, you can download a copy of your completed responses.

At the end of the questionnaire you are given the possibility to upload supporting documents to complement your contribution. Furthermore, the last question provides you the opportunity to indicate whether you would be interested in participating in follow-up surveys addressed to stakeholders with specific legal, administrative or technical expertise.

Additional information

Digitalisation can significantly improve efficiency, reliability and cost-effectiveness in transport and logistics. The use of electronic instead of paper documents, in particular, is expected to bring important benefits in terms of simplified administration and cost savings. However, a majority of the documents used in freight transport operations are still issued, transferred and archived on paper. The European Commission is currently assessing options for a policy initiative having as objective the exploitation of the full potential of the digitalisation of transport documents for freight in all transport modes.

There is a large number of freight documents used during transport. For the purpose of its assessment, the Commission divided these documents into two categories: "transport documents" which serve as contract of carriage for the goods being transported, and "other freight documents" that may be required for the due completion of a transport operation. Such "other freight documents" include dangerous goods certificates, phytosanitary certificates, certificates of origins, waste declarations and the like.

Based on a preliminary analysis, the Commission decided to focus the initiative on the contract of carriage documents. These documents are those most commonly referred to as "transport documents" and are governed by specific international conventions. Depending on the transport mode concerned, they take the form of consignment notes, waybills or bills of lading.

The European Commission is also now assessing the current reporting formalities directive for maritime transport. Both these initiatives aim at supporting trade and transport by exploiting the benefits of digitalisation, notably in terms of business to government relations. Consistency will be ensured between these two initiatives.