In its annual report, the European Shippers Council reiterated that the European government needs to safeguard the 32-billion-euro infrastructure allowance that’s part of the Connecting Europe Facility in the 2014-2020 budget.
ESC hopes the budget will be resolved soon and finalized this sometime this year.
The council stressed the importance of the government allocation, saying there’s a total need for 250 billion euros in transportation funds by 2020 simply to remove bottlnecks and complete the European Union's core network. Another 250 billion euros will be needed for infrastructure enhancements across the system. When the government's funding portion is put into those terms, 32 billion euros only covers a small portion of the needed cost.
In the report, ESC highlighted the clear link between efficient transport and a competitive industry in the European Union. Transport indirectly leads to job growth, and the council commended the EU governments for recognizing, in the latter half of last year, that transport is important to the nations' industrial well being.
“Achieving a complete and integrated resource-efficient and sustainable transport network covering all Member States and EU regions must be seen as an essential investment to creating growth and jobs in the EU,” ESC wrote in the report.
Aside from infrastructure challenges, European shippers also face competition challenges. Macro challenges ESC continually confronts include the European Union’s ports policy, which was announced in a March 2011 white paper calling for the smooth functioning of the ports. ESC forsees political struggle in some member states as the port-service conditions outlined in the European Union's approach are met. ESC is also concerned about companies monopolizing port services and the access to important data and information.
"Shippers must have direct access to information related to their cargo and intermediaries should not be allowed to impede that direct access,” ESC wrote. “Data to be used will increasingly be requested from shippers at the start of the supply chain. Without the involvement of the shippers, projects like e-freight and e-maritime will only end in suboptimal solutions.”
ESC also warned shippers to keep lobbying their policymakers regarding environmental regulations to make sure that these rule changes are fair to all parties. Slow steaming and green retrofits may not be the true path forward because the present environmental situation, they wrote, remains unclear. The council noted that a more holistic approach that takes the shippers’ needs into consideration has been winning out recently, replacing the aggressive environmental stance seen previously.
ESC suggested, moving forward, that shippers always keep the big picture in mind when lobbying against new regulations. Standing idly by, however, is not an option. In today’s world, shippers have to stay sharp regarding costs and the dynamic that emerges when dealing with a freight forwarder versus a carrier or a third or fourth party logistics provider. Shippers also need to understand the value of data in the new marketplace, ESC wrote.
"If many shippers do not revise their way of considering transport/logistics/supply chain functions by taking decisions with a medium and long-term view, then those activities may see their autonomy endangered," the council wrote.
Positive signs for shippers, such as the further liberalization of transportation modes, emerged in 2012, and ESC will press forward, making sure that government keeps the bigger picture in mind when forming policy. Shippers, however, have to keep up as well, the agency said, just as ESC continues to learn more about each shippers needs in the new transportation world. - Jon Ross