Improving supply chain with support from European Commission

The efficiency of freight transport is a key for the competitiveness of EU transport, economy, and the functioning of the internal market. This is even more so, since freight transport has increased in the EU by almost 25 % over the last 20 years and, according to the European Commission, it is projected to increase by 50 % by 2050.

A large amount of information accompanies this movement, exchanged mostly in paper format and represents a significant burden for businesses, transport operators and public authorities. The lack of a uniform legal framework at EU level requiring authorities to accept freight transport information in electronic form as well as a fragmented IT environment are an obstacle to the simplification and better efficiency of communication between transport operators.

The digitalisation of information exchange could make the transport of goods much more efficient and reliable, and yield significant savings. The European Commission recognises this challenge and will address it through many instruments, like legislation and financial support.

Regulatory framework

As one way to speed up the digitalisation of freight transport, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Regulation on electronic freight transport information (eFTI) on 17 May 2018. This proposal is part of the third ‘Europe on the move’ package. The aim of this regulation is to provide for a fully digital and harmonised environment for information exchanges between transport operators and authorities.

Legislation is one side of the challenge, making eFTI into reality is another. Electronic information needs network to be shared between the stakeholders; same as the cargo and transport vehicles needs a network of roads, rail, canals and rivers. The digital corridor information systems (‘federative platform’), which is a concept on how such electronic information network can look like and function, was prepared by the Digital Transport and Logistics Forum (DTLF).

Funding framework

The EU funding support shall help to deliver solutions to the transport sector through the Commission’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and Horizon 2020 programmes. Another funding option in the Danube region represents the Danube Transnational Programme (DTP) which expects its third call soon. INDanube encourages the logistics operators, transport companies and shippers that are using or intend to use inland waterways to join these efforts.

Connecting Europe Facility just closed the call addressing the corridor information services. In 2019, the reflux of money is expected from the low performing CEF projects which will provide the opportunity for various types of projects. Stay tuned via INDanube or following the CEF website with calls.

Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU research and innovation programme ever. In the transport sector, the Commission will strive for a balanced approach in implementing the programme that considers the specifics of each mode (rail, road, waterborne, and air transport). Main priorities are to make transport more sustainable (resource-efficient transport that respects the environment) and seamless (better mobility, less congestion, greater safety and security). Currently there are few interesting calls relevant for the inland waterborne transport sector closing on 16 Jan 2019:

The third call of the Danube Transnational Programme, which will be published soon, will address as well logistics. In this third call the DTP will support projects addressing “Transport corridors crossing the Danube regions” as well as “Inter- and multi-modality, including development of ports’ connections to road and rail transport for the improvement of transport chains”. The call is expected to be closed end February 2019.

Digitalisation projects

Other initiatives in digitalisation of the inland waterborne transport sector are carried out in projects:

  • RIS COMEX – aims at the definition, specification, implementation and sustainable operation of Corridor RIS Services
  • DANTE – aims at identifying and eliminating administrative barriers for inland waterway transport on the Danube and improving administrative procedures and processes
  • DAPhNE – aims to facilitate a balanced development of Danube Ports as eco-friendly, well accessible multimodal hubs for the transport system
  • GRENDEL – beside the modernisation of the Danube vessels the project consortium looks into improvement of the transport related processes
  • INDanube – facilitator & promoter of innovation in inland waterway transport on the Danube


If you are interested in being part of the EU funded innovation projects, please contact