In a joint statement to EU decision makers, associations representing the freight and passenger transport sectors call for the establishment of an EU framework on the governance of B2B data, in order to ensure a level playing field for all partners in the digital economy.
We believe that data and digitalisation provides new opportunities throughout logistics and mobility systems, and for EU citizens and businesses. Moreover, efforts to digitalise the transport sector will also contribute to achieving the EU Green Deal objectives,
…the statement provided by ECSA reads.
Solutions as automated vehicles, connected vehicles, smart cities and digital mobility platforms have led to an increase in data generation with transport operators typically generating data and technology companies processing and using these data.
Therefore, eight associations representing marine, air and road transport welcomed the European Commission’s communication on a European strategy for data, which sets the vision and goals for creating a European single data market to increase the EU’s competitiveness in the global data economy, but cited the challenges to be overcome if it is to unlock the potential of the data economy, including:
- Stakeholders’ lack of trust that data will be used in line with or even without contractual agreements, given the unequal bargaining power between the parties.
- The lack of economic incentives, including concerns over competitiveness and protection of commercial interests.
- The risk of misappropriation of data by third parties, resulting in potential consumer protection and liability issues.
- A lack of legal clarity surrounding the governance of data access and use (including co-created data, such as from the Internet of Things) and re-use/re-distribution.
- A lack of understanding of the total costs associated with data generation, data processing, storage and distribution.
This is why they called for a fair and transparent governance structure for B2B data, through the adoption of an EU framework on data governance that explicitly sets out the following principles:
i. The voluntary provision of data: The forced provision of business data could hamper the competitiveness of European businesses by increasing the power of a few large companies at the expense of smaller players such as SMEs.
B2B data exchange should continue to rely on voluntary contractual agreements, as this is a flexible and efficient option. This principle should apply to all companies, whether public or private, operating a purely commercial service or under a public service contract and regardless of their ownership structure.
ii. Responsible actors: The obligations and liability of data aggregators should be clearly defined at EU level and the rights of data generators explicitly recognised. In particular, the collection, storage, processing, sharing, use, re-use, access and security of data should be clearly defined in B2B contracts. This can boost the trust and mitigate concerns of data misappropriation.
iii. Standardisation and interoperability: The lack of commonly agreed interoperable and multimodal specifications at EU level, for example, for APIs or data formats, is an issue that makes interoperability between platforms difficult and increases the risk of lock-in with platform. The standardisation efforts must factor the economic and operational realities of transport companies and not represent an excessive burden. In this respect, initiatives like the delegated acts under the ITS Directive are useful for establishing certain standards for the transport sector as a whole.
Data spaces should be supported through cloud infrastructure based on the principles of security, interoperability and data portability.
iv. Boost skill development to boost competitiveness: Innovation and technology in the transport sector should be underpinned by a strong focus on skills. Skills need to be upgraded to take full advantage of the opportunities provided by databased business models.
To achieve the full potential of digital transformation and more competitiveness of the EU, businesses need incentives to upskill their talent in critical areas such as AI, machine learning and cloud computing.
v. Financial support: The impact on the industry of the transition to a digital economy should not be underestimated, as the fixed costs are high and the margins are low. In order to embrace digitalisation, the transport sector requires legal and regulatory clarity but also financial support, including for small- and medium-sized enterprises.
For a successful digital transformation, businesses need to upskill their workforce and will require financial support if they are to benefit from the opportunities of the data economy,
…the associations stressed.
Signatories to the joint statement include International Road Transport Union (IRU), The Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), Airlines for Europe (A4E), International Association for Public Transport authorities (UITP), European Shippers’ Council (ESC), European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA), European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), and European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA).