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Goods Transport Council

Permanent working programme

The general aim of the IRU Goods Transport Council is to define and attain IRU’s transport policy objectives pursuant to Article 2 of the IRU Constitution, with a view to promoting, advancing and safeguarding the interests of the goods road transport industry nationally and internationally.

  • Facilitate road freight transport by promoting and supporting the implementation of tried and tested UN Conventions and their digital solutions.
  • Foster green logistics and ensure that road transport is recognised as a key enabler in driving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • Encourage improved driver working conditions in order to attract new talents, by striving for harmonised rules and global standards.

Working programme for 2021


For a variety of reasons, road freight transport has been experiencing a progressive shortage of professional drivers, which has emerged as one of the most critical issues seriously affecting the competitiveness of the sector over the last ten years. In fact, the shortage of professional drivers has progressively become structural across the globe. A steadily decreasing pool of available truck drivers for hire limits the ability of shipping companies to keep up with rising transport demands. This means ultimately less transported volumes and higher costs for consumers.

Coordinate and ensure the implementation of IRU’s Driver Shortage Road Map focusing in 2021 on demographic factors including the lowering of the minimum age of professional drivers and thus combating youth unemployment, job attractiveness including the improved treatment of drivers at loading and unloading sites and digitalisation and skills development including measuring driver competence.


  • Reduce and harmonise the minimum age for trained young professional road transport drivers to 18 in key transport markets including North and South America, Europe and Asia.
  • Joint Charter for improving the treatment of drivers at loading sites is signed and supported by at least 20 international partners including all key social partners.
  • Approval, by the UNECE SC.1 Working Party, of Appendix 1C (introduction of the smart tachograph) of the AETR Agreement.
  • In support of road safety, roll out the IRU RoadMasters Programmes in partnership with members in five countries.


In a globalised economy, road transport is a production tool, interconnecting all businesses and all regions and thus essential to social and economic development. The road transport industry has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the majority of the transport operators cannot easily cope with the COVID 19 economic shock. At the same time, and with a view to containing the spread of COVID-19, many countries around the world have placed restrictions on international freight transport in a rather uncoordinated way.

Apart from operational issues such as border crossing restrictions and closures and drivers’ health issues, the most pressing and immediate problem related to the COVID-19 pandemic for road transport operators is a lack of liquidity, and with the dramatic decline in road transport demand, many SMEs are on the brink of insolvency. If they are allowed to go bankrupt during the crisis, their essential services will not be readily available when economic recovery begins.
The success of a mid-term recovery plan will be dependent on a coordinated approach when lifting containment measures. The key focus of the recovery plan needs to be on reducing the direct financial burden on road transport operators, while at the same time providing real business incentives for a greener and more digital logistics sector.

In this respect, IRU developed a recovery plan based on financial and non-financial measures, which in 2021 will focus on the implementation of tried and tested UN road transport conventions and their IT applications.


  • Systemised information on facilitating and restrictive government measures related to international trade and transport from all 80 countries with IRU members, to be included in and shared through IRU’s Intelligence Platform.
  • Transport operators to benefit from targeted, direct support measures from governments and international institutions.
  • Two new countries accede to the TIR Convention and two more countries fully implement TIR and its IT tools along corridors.
  • Three countries accede to the e-CMR protocol.
  • Internationally recognised guidance document on the operationalisation of e-CMR.
  • Combine different digital transport solutions including eTIR, e-CMR, eVisa and e-Permits and trialling of solutions.


Following the Paris Climate Agreement, which sets an ambitious global pathway to limit temperature change to 2°C, decarbonisation of freight transport and logistics has been a priority for international organisations such as OECD, ITF and European Commission, as well as national governments. They are planning and over the coming years will implement a combination of legislative and non-legislative measures that will further accelerate decarbonisation in commercial road transport.

The road transport industry is committed to meeting its responsibility to reduce its carbon footprint. It is in favour of effective CO2 mitigation measures, evidence-based policies and constructive global policy dialogue. IRU and its members have a clear vision for decarbonising commercial road transport up to 2050.


  • Set of regional best practice standards for cross-border use of high capacity vehicles (while allowing for national exemptions).
  • Three new trials of cross-border transport operations of high capacity vehicles trials with a view to turning them into permanent operations.
  • Develop and implement a global CO2 standard based on a well-to-wheel approach.
  • A regional feasibility analysis looking at economic viability (including taxation and incentive schemes), fuel and vehicle availability, which will be the basis for regional action plans for accelerating the uptake of alternative fuels.
  • In support of green logistics, roll out an IRU “Green Label” in partnership with members in at least two countries.