The President of the ECG comments on how European vehicle logistics and the ECG itself have changed as industry moves eastward and EU policy continues to evolve.
The outbound vehicle logistics business is, almost by definition, a crosser of borders. LSPs provide that vital artery between factories and dealers, and as the business has become increasingly global it has often meant national providers going international as a matter of course.
The same might be said of ECG. When it was originally conceived as the voice of the European vehicle logistics sector 15 years ago, its core members, and to some extent its prime areas of focus, were in Western Europe. But since then, ECG’s focus has shifted with the changing shape of the industry and the EU.
Eastern countries have been absorbed into European institutional structures, while major carmakers have recognised the potential of these countries not just for manufacturing but as growing markets in their own right. This is perhaps even more relevant for countries beyond the EU, including the great potential of Turkey and Russia.
As manufacturing has shifted east, so the routes plied by the trucks and rail wagons, ships and barges of ECG’s members have also stretched out to connect with those new plants and compounds.
Likewise, as the economies of Eastern Europe have grown, so existing providers in those countries have expanded and modernised, and new LSPs have emerged to meet demand from carmakers tapping into these markets.
The impact on ECG has been significant. We recently welcomed eight new members, half of which hail from the rising economies of the East, including AML from Serbia, Hungarian operator Eurasia Logistics, Alex Trans Group from the Ukraine and Russian operator Autologistics Group.
Like other members, these companies joined ECG because of its benefits, including strength in unity and numbers, which in turn provides members with networking opportunities and gives ECG a voice in the international space where decisions on the sector’s future are made.
Our General Assembly, which took place this year aboard the DFDS ferry Pearl Seaways as it sailed between Oslo and Copenhagen, provided evidence of ECG’s increasing influence in Brussels, with Danish MEPs Anna Rosbach and Anne Jensen, alongside Magda Kopczynska of the European Commission’s DG MOVE, all contributing to the debate on emerging European transport and logistics policy.
Rosbach was also the guest of honour at the graduation ceremony for the latest group of 18 young managers to pass through the ECG Academy, presenting Ugo Gasparri with the Giovanni Paci award for best student on the course (see picture above).
We anticipate that new members will bring fresh demand to the programme, which leads to a diploma in Automobile Logistics Management and is now recruiting for its seventh annual course.
This is an invaluable training experience for the managers of tomorrow, bringing together an increasingly international group every year from both LSPs and OEMs. It is a boon to individual ECG members and to the sector as a whole.
As our Eastern membership has grown, so has representation from the area on the ECG board. Kirill Petrunkin, of FTC Autotechnoimport, recently became the first Russian board member. Ilhan Cetinkaya of Turkey’s ILCE, a particular champion of the ECG Academy, stepped down this year after long service as a board member but he was replaced by his young compatriot Ömer Gürsoy of Me-Par.
I would also like to welcome our other new board members: Frank Lehner of BLG Automotive Logistics in Germany and Marcos Duato of Spain’s Flota Suardiaz.
Our Brussels secretariat receives a steady stream of calls from Eastern European LSPs seeking information on ECG, their interest sparked increasingly by the window onto our activities provided by our newly redesigned website. (www. ecgassociation.eu)
ECG’s existing membership can only benefit from this interest, particularly at a time when a number of policy issues critical to the sector’s prospects are coming to a head in Brussels, from the question of new limits on the sulphur content of marine fuels (see p6) to the vexed issue of loaded truck weights and dimensions.