EU4Digital eTrade Network: workshop highlights progress on pilot projects and future targets

  • Date: 16/12/20
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More than 60 participants were given a broad overview across the full range of eTrade activities and targets until 2025, at the 9th EU4Digital eTrade Network workshop, which was held on 9-10 December.

The participants at the workshop included: 

  • The Eastern partner country  representatives from eTrade Network;
  • Harmonising Digital Market (HDM) coordinators from the Eastern partner countries; 
  • European Commission representatives;
  • EU4Digital Facility senior experts; 
  • EU4Digital Facility country coordinators from the Eastern partner countries.

One of the key goals of the workshop was to present the current status, results and timeline for upcoming actions of eTrade activities. The first day reviewed the eDelivery and digital transport corridor (DTC) activities, while the second day focused on eCommerce and eCustoms. 

The eDelivery session gave an overview of the current pilot progress and the next steps. The main focus was on the eDelivery pilot launch between Ukraine and Poland, under which four importing and exporting companies from Ukraine and Poland have successfully exchanged standardised invoice data. The pilot is currently being concluded and feedback collected. Furthermore, the EU4Digital Facility has also initiated a pilot between two Eastern partner countries, Armenia and Ukraine. The preliminary date for the pilot launch is foreseen in January. Until then, preparatory actions and discussions will take place. 

In addition to the general eDelivery session, EU4Digital also organised a virtual eDelivery pilot showcaseas a back-to-back event of the eTrade Network workshop. 

The digital transport corridor (DTC) presentation provided an overview of the completed DTC activity. Currently, the European Commission is in the process of looking at the possible modalities to implement the designed programme. Updates on this topic will be communicated by the EU4Digital Facility.

The eCustoms discussion focused on the progress of the pilot between Lithuania and Belarus. Major achievements were discussed, such as the established cooperation between Belarus and Lithuanian customs authorities for piloting – parties have signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Another important topic covered was the flexibility and adaptability of the pilot solution to exchange data. With numerous thematic and working meetings, trainings and discussions, the design and development of the pilot scenario of Empty Trucks has successfully concluded.  The pilot will be ready to launch at the end of the year. The two remaining scenarios – exchange of limited and full data set of export and transit declarations – will take place in January-February 2021. 

In addition, the EU4Digital is currently considering the possibility to replicate the pilot between Eastern partner countries, and discussions with Armenian and Georgian Customs administrations have recently been initiated. The positive confirmation from the parties would mean that the pilot would be initiated as early as January 2021. The eCustoms pilot is the starting point, which will follow with the recommendations in regard to necessary legal, technical and organisational adjustments and full scale solution implementation. 

The eCommerce discussion focused on the latest updates since the last annual Steering Committee Meeting. Among the major milestones discussed were gap analysis and recommendations packagesand the eCommerce pilot

Regional and country-level gap analysis and recommendations packages for all six Eastern partner countries are in the process of being finalised. The gap analysis and recommendations prepared by the EU4Digital team aim to:

  • Eliminate the barriers for cross-border eCommerce; 
  • Boost the volume of cross-border eCommerce;
  • Prepare for upcoming EU and global changes introduced in 2021 in customs and taxes areas related to eCommerce.  

Among the next steps is the handover of the recommendation packages to the beneficiaries in the Eastern partner countries, as well as the presentation of the recommendations to the European Commission to explore possible activation on bilateral and regional level.

During the workshop, the EU4Digital Facility team also introduced the eCommerce pilot – its concept, benefits, potential piloting countries, timeline as well as the next steps. The pilot solution of a virtual warehouse is being initiated between Azerbaijan-Georgia, and Armenia and an EU member state to be selected during the implementation. It is scheduled to kick off in December 2020 and to be completed by April 2021. The pilot online database of products will support the Eastern partner countries to list products for sales abroad and complete timely cross-border delivery. The pilot activity will be launched with organisational set-up and technical development after the participating countries confirm their involvement in the project. 

Another goal of the workshop was to discuss the eTrade Network action plan. The representatives of the Eastern partner countries presented their proposals and perspective on 2020-2025 targets. As the next step, the EU4Digital Network will finalise the action plan considering the insights from the Eastern partner countries. 

The Workshop also hosted several guest speakers:

  • Lia Potec from the European Commission (DG MOVE) presented updates about the EU regulation on electronic freight transport information (eFTI).
  • Nikolaos Tsampieris from ERTICO ITS EUROPE presented updates on the FENIX pilots for the digitalisation of TEN-T transport corridors in the EU. 
  • Ana Burkovskiene, FRONTEX certified advisor, covered the topic of European integrated border management (IBM) – its concept and implementation of practices. Laimis Zlabys, representative from Lithuanian customs, shared an example of IBM implementation in Lithuania. 
  • Walter Trezek, Chairman of the Universal Postal Union Consultative Committee and Co-chair of Ecommerce Europe, presented the details of the upcoming 2021 changes in customs and taxes areas.

The active involvement of the Eastern partner countries in the discussion of the EU4Digital progress, challenges, pilots, insights and best practices from the EU is key to achieving the goal of the EU4Digital initiative – harmonisation of digital markets among the Eastern partner countries and the EU. The EU4Digital team continues to involve the Eastern partner countries in such discussions to develop actionable recommendations and pilot solutions that support the goal. 

Further information. The event was organised by the EU4Digital eTrade Network as a part of bi-annual sessions. Subscribe to the Newsletter to be always informed.