The statement supports the European Commission’s (EC) under-development European Strategy for Data, and affirms that the signatories are ready to cooperate with the EC on the development of a specific framework for the transport sector.

Signatories of the joint statement include the Community of European Rail Operators and Infrastructure Companies (CER), the International Association of Public Transport (UITP), the European Shippers’ Council (ESC), International Road Transport Union (IRU), Airlines for Europe (A4E), the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ESCA), the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) and the European Association of Automobile Suppliers (CLEPA).

The statement proposes a series of core principles for a potential EC framework for B2B data in the sector, including:

  • the voluntary provision of data: data provision must be voluntary, as forced data exchange disproportionately benefit a small number of larger companies and jeopardises the competitiveness of small and medium-sized businesses. B2B data transfer should be carried out via voluntary contractual agreements.
  • responsible actors: the obligations and liability of those collecting data should be clearly defined at EU level, and the rights of data generators explicitly recognised, to boost trust and reduce fears about data misappropriation. The acceptable collection, storage, processing, sharing, use, access and security of data should be clearly defined in contracts.
  • standards and interoperability: efforts should be made to standardise data specifications such as file formatting and application programming interface (API) to increase the interoperability of data for ease of exchange. Support should be given to enable the adoption of cloud-based data spaces. However, standardisation efforts should factor in the economic and operational realities to ensure that the changes do not unnecessarily burden transport companies.
  • skill development: businesses must be incentivised to train staff in critical areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and cloud computing to take full advantage of the opportunities provided by data-based business models and ensure competitiveness.
  • financial support: in order to ensure that digitalisation is fully embraced by the transport sector, financial support should be provided, including to small and medium-sized business.

The signatories say that the principles outlined aim to address the needs of the transport sector’s growing reliance on the exchange of data, following the growth of new technologies such as autonomous vehicles, internet-connected vehicles, smart cities and digital mobility platforms. In particular, the proposals aim to address five key challenges facing the implementation of a European transport ‘data economy’:

  • a lack of trust that data will be used fairly or in line with contracts, due to potentially unequal bargaining power between parties
  • the lack of economic incentives, including concerns about competitiveness and protectionism
  • the risk of misappropriation of data by third parties, risking consumer protection and liability issues
  • the lack of legal clarity surrounding data access and use, including co-created data such as from the Internet of Things (IoT) and reuse or redistribution, and
  • a lack of understanding of the total costs of data generation, processing, storage and distribution.

“Today’s statement underlines the transport sector’s commitment to work jointly towards the development of a transparent governance structure for fair access to B2B data,” says Mr Libor Lochman, CER’s executive director.