Navigation path

Left navigation

Additional tools


Brussels, 18 October 2007

Freight transport in Europe: new Commission initiatives aimed at achieving greater efficiency and sustainability

The European Commission today adopted a series of initiatives aimed at making freight transport in the EU more efficient and sustainable. This new package of measures consists of proposals concerning logistics, a rail network giving priority to freight, and European ports, as well as two documents on the barrier-free European maritime transport area and the motorways of the sea. The simultaneous adoption of all these measures gives a strong signal demonstrating the close links between logistics and the various modes of transport. The common objective of these initiatives is to promote innovative infrastructure technologies and practices, develop means of transport, improve freight management, facilitate the construction of freight transport chains, simplify administrative procedures and enhance quality throughout the logistic chain.

"Europe needs efficient, integrated transport alternatives that are both environment-friendly and user-friendly. The measures which I have presented today will also make rail, maritime and inland waterway transport more attractive and more competitive in the context of co-modality", said Jacques Barrot, Commission Vice-President with special responsibility for transport. "The integration of these modes of transport into efficient logistic chains is essential in order to reconcile the economic efficiency and long-term development of transport".

On the basis of the findings of a wide-ranging consultation starting in the summer of 2006, the logistics action plan proposes 30 or so measures aimed at making freight transport in the EU more efficient and sustainable, while reducing costs and saving both time and energy. The action plan aims to improve the flow of information accompanying the physical transport of goods, simplify administrative procedures, improve the competence and attractiveness of the logistics sector, and encourage high-quality services. It also advocates innovation in logistics in the urban environment and in long-distance transport concentred in "green corridors".[1]

The Commission is promoting maritime transport, which remains the mode that is the most environment-friendly and energy-efficient in terms of greenhouse-gas emissions. The simplification of administrative procedures for maritime transport within the EU is essential in order to make this mode of transport more attractive. The documents on the European maritime transport area and the motorways of the sea[2] demonstrate the progress made with the preparation of these two initiatives and invite all stakeholders to give their opinions. The communication on European ports policy is aimed at facilitating the development of an efficient port system in Europe that will be capable of meeting current and future transport needs. It sets out an action plan for the Commission to help European ports address challenges such as the increase in transport demand, technological changes and the need to reduce emissions.

Given the steady increase in the efficiency of road transport, rail transport also needs to become more competitive. The Commission’s objective is to promote the creation of a European freight network on which freight transport could offer a better quality of service in terms of journey times, reliability and capacity. To supplement the measures already taken (such as the deployment of ERTMS[3] on routes identified as having priority or the construction of major infrastructures for the trans-European transport network), the Commission is proposing new initiatives with a view to creating a European freight-orientated network in which the service will be more reliable and more efficient than at present.

Freight transport is essential for the competitiveness of the European economy and for the quality of life of EU citizens. It is estimated that the volumes of goods transported in Europe will increase by 50% between 2000 and 2020. In the years ahead, freight transport must address the challenges of efficiency, quality and sustainability. It will therefore need to come up with suitable responses to the problems of congestion, climate change (freight transport is responsible for one third of the CO2 emissions arising from transport[4]), and energy supply and security. At the same time, the new information and communication technologies and the influence of European freight transport on the global market offer major opportunities for the future.
For more information on freight transport in Europe:
Info Clip:

[1] Green corridors use different modes of transport in combination for an integrated, energy-efficient door-to-door service that respects the environment and the quality of life of Europeans.

[2] These major maritime routes between EU Member States offer the possibility of high-quality scheduled services which, combined with other modes of transport, guarantee shorter and quicker access to certain outlying regions in Europe and make it possible to avoid natural barriers such as the Alps and Pyrenees. The motorways of the sea play an important role in restructuring long-distance freight transport in Europe and improving its sustainability.

[3] The purpose of ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System) is to overcome the fragmentation of rail traffic control systems in Europe and develop safe, free-flowing rail traffic.

[4] Transport accounts for one quarter of all CO2 emissions.

Side Bar