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European Parliament plans for transport

May 16, 2012
On 15 December, 2011, the European Parliament adopted its own EU Transport Policy White Paper, with a large majority.

The report encourages operators to consider alternative modes of transport rather than forcing a shift from road to rail. 

It also sets a number of concrete environmental targets. The most important points for movers are:

  • Modal shift of freight should not be forced through legislation;
  • By 2013, the EC should prepare a proposal to standardise freight and e-documents with the aim to facilitate multimodal freight;
  • By 2013, the EC should make a number of proposals to reduce road fatalities and severe injuries by 50% by 2020;
  • By 2013, the EC should make a proposal on social and working conditions with the aim to improve the attractiveness of the sector for workers. Such a proposal should be based on an in-depth analysis of the social and working conditions in all transport modes, the degree of harmonisation between the laws of the Member States and on an assessment of the developments in the labour market. The proposal should improve the situation of workers throughout the transport sector;
  • By 2013, another review of the driving and rest time rules with emphasis on harmonising interpretation of implementation and enforcement;
  • By 2013, the EC should undertake an analysis of the current situation with regard to the level of infrastructure, the density of the transport network and the quality of the transport services in all Member States;
  • The EC should prepare by 2013 a report on the state of the EU road transport market;
  • By 2014, the EC should make a proposal to introduce the principle of internalisation of external costs in all freight and passenger transport modes. (Potentially this could significantly increase the costs operators have to pay to compensate for environmental pollution such as noise.);
  • The EC should prepare legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport by 20% by 2020 as compared to 1990 figures;
  • Transport infrastructure, including road infrastructure, should be further developed in the new Member States to facilitate the completion of the single market;
  • Member States should work towards creating a level playing field between transport modes in relation to energy taxation and VAT;
  • Member States should be allowed to test and introduce the European Modular System (EMS) without EC intervention. (EMS is a concept of allowing the transhipment of existing loads into longer and sometimes heavier vehicle combinations to be used on some parts of the road network.);
  • The priority projects of the TEN Road Network (TERN) should receive new impetus, and compared to 2010, there should be 40% more secure truck parking areas on the TERN by 2020;
  • Create incentives for road transport operators to facilitate investments in safe and green road transport technologies;
  • The EU should establish a standardised methodology to calculate the carbon footprint of transport and logistics operations.

The report is generally positive about commercial road freight.  It includes proposals such as: the promotion of co-modality (although it doesn’t seem to acknowledge the fact that road transport can hardly be avoided even if rail or water transport is used for part of a journey. Indeed the European Economic and Social Committee has said that modal shift targets “lack a scientific basis”); the reduction of CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020 and the establishment of an EU calculation methodology (but watch out for this well-worn phrase ‘internalisation of external costs’) which could increase operators’ costs dramatically; the creation of a system of incentives to encourage investments in safe and green technologies; the use of the EMS which might be useful for movers handling long-haul European work; and the increase in the number of secure truck parking areas.

For goods transport, there is also a concern about a possible new revision of the driving and rest time rules which could lead to a further loss of operational flexibility in goods transport by road and an increase in costs.

FEDEMAC, the European organisation that lobbies on behalf of the moving industry throughout Europe, has asked members to read the report and provide feedback.  The organisation says that it will “try to ensure that the interests of the removals and storage industry are fully taken into account and reflected in any implementation measure.”

The report can be downloaded at:

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