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European Commission


Brussels, 20 June 2012

"Wise men" hand over report on situation of the EU road transport market

Gradual opening of domestic road transport markets to cabotage should be considered as a key step towards completing the Single European Transport Area says a report handed over to Vice-President Kallas today. The High Level Group on the situation of the EU internal market for road haulage, chaired by Prof Brian T Bayliss, identifies the main obstacles as well as a series of recommendations in the field of road transport to the creation of a Single European Transport Area.

What is road cabotage?

Cabotage is the domestic transport of goods in a country by a haulier registered in another country. The rules on cabotage and access to the international road transport market for EU registered and other carriers are laid out in Regulation 1072/20091.

What are the current rules?

According to the Regulation, hauliers may carry goods without restrictions from their country to another or between two Member States, even if these Member States are not their country of registration.

Hauliers are however still limited when they wish to go from one point to another in a Member State other than the one where they are registered. In this case, called cabotage, hauliers are restricted to three transport operations in the seven days following an unloaded international carriage. These rules have been applied since May 2010.

What is the problem?

The EU road haulage market is dealing with a series of problems such as:

  • Hauliers are not free to carry out transport operations freely, which can force hauliers to travel home or elsewhere with empty vehicles, or stop them from loading their vehicles in an optimal way and which creates efficiency losses.

  • Operating conditions vary from one Member State to another, meaning that the conditions for carrying out cabotage also vary from one operator to another.

  • The existing rules have proved challenging for Member States to apply, particularly regarding the number of cabotage operations carried out.

  • Concerns also exist as to the availability of manpower in the sector, and the capacity of the road transport industry to take up innovative solutions.

What is the High Level Group proposing?

The High Level Group is proposing a flexible and gradual opening of national road transport markets, to be flanked by measures to restore the attractiveness of the sector, ensure that rules are applied fairly and that innovation can be promoted. In particular, the Group recommends that two different types of cabotage be introduced:

  • 'Linked cabotage', limited to a short period of time and connected to an international carriage

  • and 'non-linked cabotage', which may take place for a longer time, independently of any international carriage and which would be subject to a registration procedure to ensure that the drivers involved apply the labour law of their local competitor.

What are the benefits?

The High Level Group considers that this set of measures would allow a step-by-step opening of the market, increasing flexibility of operations and competition in national markets, whilst ensuring fair competition and avoiding a 'race to the bottom' in social norms. More flexibility would allow hauliers and shippers to optimise fleet management and reduce empty runs, thereby reducing emissions and fuel consumption whilst improving the competitiveness of the overall economy which relies on efficient logistics.

What are the next steps?

The Commission will consider the High Level Group's conclusions in its own report on the situation of the EU road haulage market, to be published in 2013. On the basis of this report, the Commission may also present a legislative proposal to review Regulation 1072/2009.

Facts and figures

  • Road freight transport for hire and reward is an important economic activity in the EU: it provides around 3 million jobs in about 600,000 enterprises2.

  • Road transport accounts for close to three quarters3 of all inland transport activities in the EU. In 2010, it generated 1.76 trillion tonne-kilometres, one third of which in international transport operations.

  • In 2010, almost a quarter4 of all vehicle-km of heavy goods vehicles in the EU involved an empty vehicle.

  • Cabotage accounts for around 2%5 of all national road freight transport activities for hire and reward in the EU.

More information:

Summary of recommendations

Report of the High Level Group on the situation of the EU road haulage market

European Commission website on road haulage


1 :

Regulation (EC) No 1072/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 on common rules for access to the international road haulage market OJ L 300, 14.11.2009, p. 72–87

2 :

Source: Eurostat

3 :

73% in 2010, source: Eurostat

4 :

24%, source: Eurostat

5 :

Source: Eurostat

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