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e-Freight: a concrete step forward and the call for policy action

Date: 09/12/2013

The incorporation of 'e-Freight' standards into the OASIS UBL 2.1 global standard on last 5 November

e-Freight aims at linking electronically logistics stakeholders along the whole supply chain and facilitating the flow, access and use of information, leading ultimately to enhanced efficiency and reduced costs of freight transport operations.

The European Commission has been funding over the last years research projects which developed standards for managing electronically freight transport. Several of these standard messages have just been approved by OASIS, the global Organisation for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards, as part of the revised UBL 2.1 standard. UBL (Universal Business Language) is the OASIS library of standard electronic XML business documents for various commercial domains, including in particular documents supporting intermodal freight management. OASIS has more than 5,000 participants representing over 600 organisations and individual members in more than 65 countries.

Logistics is an international business and therefore a European logistics policy needs to have a global dimension. Co-operation on information and data exchange at global level is required in order to establish and facilitate efficient global logistics chains. Therefore, the European Commission welcomes the recent incorporation of 'e-Freight' messages into UBL 2.1.

However, if the OASIS standard is considered an important step, efforts cannot stop here to achieve the development and implementation of the e-Freight vision, which is to establish an overall framework for information exchange between the different actors in the freight transport logistics chain: standards will need to be enlarged to other applications and to be complemented with the necessary administrative, governance and legal provisions in order to ensure effective and harmonized implementation of standards.

It is in that sense that stakeholders highlighted during the European Logistics Conference which took place on 7 and 8 November in Brussels that cooperation amongst all communities involved in the development of standards and tools for freight information management is of utmost importance. The European Commission was called upon to provide the necessary push and governance framework to make that a reality.

The European Commission will answer to that request with the e-Freight Communication in the coming months.

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