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InCo Flagship on Integrated multimodal, low-emission freight transport systems and logistics

Proposals should address one or more of the following aspects:

  • Understanding how new concepts in logistics, in combination with new national strategies to organize freight flows in ports and airports have an impact on global freight transport, and on related greenhouse gas emissions. Multimodal transfer zones from ports and airports from long-haul to last mile logistics need to be better analysed in order to find appropriate measures and for ensuring seamless door-to-door transport, exploiting the full potential of modularization and other innovative logistics concepts. International cooperation with major trade partner countries is essential to ensure the smooth transfer at all levels of the transport chain. Proposals should also address solutions that enable peripheral regions and landlocked developing countries to have proper accessibility to international trade.
  • Speed up the process and transition towards the Physical Internet paradigm, demonstrating how different technologies, business cases and standards come together in real-world applications, and are able to deliver added value to the users and have positive impacts in terms of emissions and energy consumption. Priority partners should be USA, Canada, China, Japan. Demonstrations of satellite-based applications using EGNOS and Galileo are also suggested.
  • Research the range of new issues and questions emerging with the new trade routes to and from Europe, such as the Northern Sea Route (across an ice-free Arctic in summer months) or the new Silk Road routes and the Chinese One Belt One Road strategy; the effect of the development of these new routes on trans-continental freight modal split; the additional interfaces needed between the new overland routes and the EU internal transport networks / corridors. Priority partners are those along the routes. The geopolitical and trade aspects of these developments, in particular on countries affected by these developments, should be considered.
  • Understand new disruptive trends emerging as on-demand logistics solutions such as crowd-sourcing of deliveries (or ‘crowdshipping’) which have the potential to be a logistics ‘game-changer’, evidencing different impacts in both emerging and industrialized countries, including the possible integration of passengers and freight flows. Research on the crowd-sourcing of logistics would benefit from international collaboration, partly to compare the development of the phenomenon in different markets, but also to explore whether it can be extended to long-haul / cross border freight delivery, taking in consideration economic, regulatory and security constraints.
  • Assess the impact of emerging technologies in other sectors than freight transport (e.g. Blockchain, Industry 4.0 5G, 3D printing, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV's)) on the logistics operational system, and identify the potential development paths that lead to the optimal exploitation of their positive effect.
  • Collect best case models and develop decision support systems aimed at helping public authorities and private companies to determine the most likely scenarios and to promote a higher level of collaboration between the different stakeholders, including new emerging ones.
  • Consideration of aspects of governance, privacy and cybersecurity of and with regard to cargo.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 3 and 7 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

In line with the Union's strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation[[(COM(2012)497)]], international cooperation is encouraged. In particular proposals should consider cooperation with projects or partners from the US, Japan, Canada, China, Latin America.

In particular, proposals should foresee twinning with entities participating in projects funded by US DOT to exchange knowledge and experience and exploit synergies.

Global as well as regional and local freight transport is massively changing due to accelerating technological changes, the establishment of new players in global trade, the rise of protectionism, and the slowing down of economic growth of important partners such as China. New logistics concepts (such as the Physical Internet) and new disruptive technologies, such as Blockchain, Industry 4.0 vehicle automation and truck platooning or new business models, like 'crowdshipping' and the circular economy models will have an impact on global freight transport, its optimisation and its environmental footprint that needs to be better understood and assessed. Furthermore new trade routes from and to Europe will probably change the traditional pattern of freight movement and will need new connections with European corridors and hubs at a time of budget limitation on investment for transport infrastructure.

Sustainable integrated multimodal freight transport is particularly important for the development of countries in special situations – least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, and small island states and outermost regions - which face common problems resulting from the under-resourcing of transport infrastructure and services, traffic-related air pollution and high accident levels, but also diverse geopolitical and trade situations. These countries/regions also have an enormous potential for sustainable development. International cooperation can support their economies both domestically and globally for a global benefit and ensuring better integration of these regions into the world economic landscape.

Main impact from the R&I activities should be the improved integration of the European transport network (both hard – TEN-T – and soft – logistics and IT) with the global network, through the sustainable development of the transport nodes likely to benefit from the emergence of new trade routes and harmonised platforms and new and revised 'nodes', also in support of the sustainable development of new logistics routes and their link with national/regional markets. Better understanding of the impact of emerging technologies on freight flow and subsequent guidelines to optimize vehicle, infrastructure and operation accordingly. Facilitate the development of disadvantaged regions and their inclusion into the international trading system. Better understanding of links between technological development, trade and geopolitics. Research should be validated in a selected number of case studies through pilot demonstration, trials and testing involving service providers and end-users.