EU digital policy


Digitalisation as a tool
Digitalisation is a buzzword today and sometimes it is forgotten it is a tool and not an aim in itself. In the end, we all want to realise easy-to-use and reliable mobility & logistics. Digital tools can be of great help if we enable secure sharing on the basis of common standards with proper access rights. Today, we are working on improving the sharing of data between vessel operators and infrastructure managers through the RIS COMEX project. The RIS directive from 2005 is being evaluated by the Commission and an impact assessment is taking place to create e-tools for crew and vessels. Tomorrow, we aim to share data between inland waterway transport and the entire logistics and mobility chain to make inland navigation easier-to-use and help achieve climate goals.

What is DINA and why is it important

  • DINA stands for the EU Digital Inland Waterway Area and addresses digitalisation in inland waterway transport.
  • It covers inter alia River Information Services (RIS) which aim to streamline the information exchange between public and private parties to improve the safety, sustainability and efficiency in inland waterway transport. RIS are the inland waterway transport equivalent of ITS, SESAR, ERTMS, and e-Navigation.
  • Further to the European DINA study of 2017, the DINA Expert Group of the Commission aims to deal with all digital developments from navigation and traffic management, integration in logistics processes and administrative formalities including costs involved in complying with and enforcing legislation.

Automation taking off
The first automated lock systems are initiated and the use of sensors and aquatic drones to monitor infrastructure and operations catch on. The first projects on vessel platooning and remote operation of barges are taking place. The World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure (PIANC) has set up a working group on smart shipping and the Central Commission for Navigation of the Rhine has defined levels of progressive automation. A number of waterway authorities have set-up pilot areas to test automated vessels and infrastructure coupled with smart communication and legislation. This is laying the basis to prepare in cooperation with all stakeholders the roll out of progressive automation and identify investment, regulatory and education requirement to move forward.

What is DTLF and why is it important

  • The EU Digital Transport and Logistics Forum (DTLF) is a group of transport and logistics experts, including public and private players from the inland waterway sector. Together, they work on a common vision and roadmap for digital transport and logistics.
  • First priority is the digitalisation of transport documents and their acceptance by public and private parties to move to paperless transport and single reporting for better communication. EU draft regulation on e-freight documents (eFTI) awaits adoption by Council and Parliament. Policy measures for the harmonisation of other documents will also be identified.
  • Second priority is the set-up of a data sharing infrastructure and its governance so information can flow seamlessly and securely across the supply chain. It addresses the interoperability obstacles between systems and modes.

Connected and automated transport
The Commission prepared a strategic research roadmap for connected and automated transport (CAT) covering road, rail and waterborne. In the words of the report "Innovation towards CAT, however, poses a multitude of challenges: Generally for all modes, these include the development of technologies at vehicle, infrastructure, data communication and decision-making levels, as well as the validation of these technologies and the real-world testing in individual mobility, goods and passenger transportation. At the same time, the needs and expectations of other users of the transport system and the society have to be considered, particularly in terms of safety and data security, and translated into technical and legal requirements." As commercial developments are evolving quickly, this is an area which not only requires attention in research and development, but in all related policies and regulations at EU level.

Status of RIS implementation and next steps
Digitalisation at work
RIS COMEX project 
ST4W project 


Policy recommendations up to 2020



- A timely revision of the RIS directive of 2005 to keep up with current needs and developments
- The creation of an eFTI dataset for inland waterway transport fitting into multimodal paperless transport
- Pre-normative research on standards, liability and training requirement for automation


- Define a roadmap towards permanent operation and governance of a EU wide RIS corridor system data sharing platform integrated with the EU federated platform of networks as proposed by DTLF
- Define cross-border data interoperability of existing information systems so information is securely available with proper access rights on a single digital gateway and user data are provided ‘once only’
- Start the design of an EU framework for the development and deployment of smart shipping including regulation and investment
- Extend digital services and Mobility as a Service (MaaS) towards inland waterway transport applications in the field of tourism and public transport





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