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European Commission’s combined transport proposal: forcing modal shift will not work

13 Nov 2017

IRU warns that the proposal to modernise an outdated combined transport directive fails to consider the need for an overall improvement to the multimodal freight transport and logistics network and focuses too strongly on forcing freight off roads and transferring it to other modes of transport. The revision of the directive comes as part of the set of legislative proposals from the Clean Mobility Package.

Marc Billiet, who leads IRU’s activities on goods transport in the EU, commented: “The central point of the Commission’s proposal should be the improvement in efficiency and capacity of the whole EU multimodal freight transport and logistics network. Policies that aim to force modal shift do not work. We haven’t seen any significant modal shift results over the last 25 years and this proposal will not change anything.”

The Commission has correctly identified a number of shortcomings in the current combined transport directive such as: the unclear definition of combined transport; the outdated methods required to provide evidence; and the challenges occurring due to the use of combined transport to evade the EU road haulage market access restrictions.

However, IRU warns that the Commission has not gone far enough to provide solutions for better clarity, fairer competition, efficiency and good enforcement.

IRU is also surprised by the discriminatory approach concerning the choice of non-road freight modes that can be used as part of combined transport and highlights that the Commission’s proposal risks further deepening distortions of competition in the EU road freight transport sector as well.

It would be better to incentivise the use of European Modular Concept vehicles in combined transport in order to reduce the number of trucks needed in combination with other modes of transport, whose capacity continues to increase.

Marc Billiet continues “The Commission has missed an opportunity to further align the different national combined transport rules, especially in terms of incentives, and to further clarify the definition and scope of the EU combined transport operations. The European Parliament and Council will have a paramount responsibility to further improve the Commission’s proposal and IRU is willing to cooperate in this work.”