Removing the paper format from freight documents is a project as old as the first microcomputer, perhaps even older. As soon as Alan Turing stopped using his genius to decipher Enigma in favor of more abstract problems, his comrades quickly saw the potential of the newly founded computer. Yet, forty years after the first commercial microcomputer, only the waybill and a handful of other documents have been able to break out of their paper-based shackles by being digitized on a massive scale. Notwithstanding APIs, ERPs, TOS, and other acronyms widely used in the supply chain, digital usage is still rare when it comes to satisfying a regulatory specification with a government. The paper age is not over.
At the European level, the evolution of the entire system is now based on a political will and an economic need for growth and competitiveness of the EU economy. The European Commission envisages that the logistics sector will save €27 billion over the next 20 years. According to 2018 estimates. The European regulation will be authoritative in this matter (OJ of the EU). In concrete terms, the states will have to be able to check administrative documents digitally by 2024. Through the states, it is the private actors who will be concerned. And who says digital says "IT service providers" and "Developers" to implement the systems and procedures.
- Administrative burden for logistics operators.
- Administrative costs for logistics operators and related activities (e.g. trade, manufacturing).
- Control and monitoring (state → company or company → provider).
- Optimize state controls (speed, tracking of goods, cross-referencing of data for statistical purposes).
- Facilitate access to data for companies (freight position,CO2 balance).
- Remove the obstacles experienced by companies in the current context
- The more steps and intermediaries there are, the more margin you can find
- The more transparency there is, the less you can make parallel economies work
- The more information systems there are, the less likely it is that small players will survive, and the more we tend towards conglomerates.
The first stone was laid in 2015 with the creation of an expert committee under the European Commission(EC): the DTLF which is not, let's bet, an umpteenth acronym of the delirious internet sometimes NSFW. This working group brings together members of different natures in subgroups that produce deliverables, the raw material for drafting the regulation.
Members of the working group
- European experts solicited for their knowledge e.g. Nico WAUTERS
- European experts solicited as representatives of a common interest e.g. Ulrika HURT
- Organizations in the broadest sense e.g. Atos SE
- Member States e.g. Czech Republic
- Other public entities e.g. Ministries, UN
The working group broke down the problem into three subgroups and several teams:
- Subgroup I - Paperless transport: To reflect on the inefficiency of paper in an era of digitally recorded information.
- Data model: Definition of the eFTI dataset and eFTI subdataset in the framework of the EU requirements.
- Functional aspects: Definition of the procedures for making information available from one actor to another.
- Technical aspects: Definition of the technical architecture of the future eFTI environment.
- Certification & implementation: Definition of the normative framework that will govern the eFTI platforms and their managers.
- Subgroup II - Corridor freight information systems: Establish the characteristics of an information exchange network across all supply chain actors:
- Plug & play: Definition of the concepts and procedures for connection and data exchange.
- Technology independent services: Creation of the platform that will serve as the foundation for process deployment, stakeholder interaction and regulatory compliance.
- Federation of platforms: Implementation of interoperability between platforms to neutralize differences in technological choices.
- Trusted, safe and secure: Definition of the governance that will govern the data exchanges and the protocols used (including P2P).
- Subgroup III - Electronic Freight Transport Information (eFTI) Delegated Acts:
- It was formalized on 09/13/2018 by EC decision.
- By definition, delegated acts are legal acts (secondary legislation) that are part of the governance of the European Union and in continuity with the European treaties (primary legislation).
- The delegated act on eFTI is in line with the Regulation 2020/1056 of 15/07/2020 in application since 20/08/2020. It defines the detailed measures and will enter into force if the Parliament and the Council do not oppose it.
Subgroup I's term has expired (2015-2018) and it has passed the baton to Subgroup III (2020-2023). The first working session of SG3 was held on 08/11/2021.
What happened between 2018 and 2020? God only knows, but SGI meetings were held through the end of 2019, SG III is well and truly at work and POCs are flourishing.