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EU Transport policy fails to recognise road transport’s irreplaceable role in a “resource efficient transport system” and to provide incentives for its greener future.


29 Mar 2011


Climate & Environment

IRU regrets that actions proposed in the new European Commission Transport Policy White Paper undermines the goal of achieving an integrated transport system and thus jeopardise the competitiveness of Europe’s transport system and economy. Moreover, the inadequacy of actions designed to further green road transport undermines its credibility.

Brussels - The International Road Transport Union (IRU) shares the European Commission’s goal but not methods of achieving a resource efficient EU transport system, laid down in its Roadmap towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system as published today in the Transport Policy White Paper.

The President of the IRU EU Goods Transport Liaison Committee, Alexander Sakkers, declared, “The road transport industry is fully committed to work with all other modes, the EU institutions, national governments, as well as vehicle and component manufacturers to further reduce its environmental footprint and to implement the co-modality principle introduced in 2006. However, the IRU strongly regrets the European Commission’s choice to promote a forced modal shift to other modes such as rail - which are simply not up to that task - despite previous recommendations of the European Parliament not to do so. The road transport industry therefore opposes increases in taxes, duties and charges, aimed solely at road freight transport, which will be used to cross-subsidise other transport modes, without any economic, environmental or social benefit.”

Promoting a forced modal shift policy for freight transport is misguided and will lead to a continued uni-modal approach instead of creating a resource efficient integrated transport system making each mode greener and more efficient. It should be noted that publicly-owned railway holdings, which are also the largest road hauliers in Europe, cannot even shift the goods they carry themselves from road to rail! Resource efficient co-modality should be the target, but it cannot be achieved without the road transport sector.

A realistic acceptance of commercial road transport’s irreplaceable role in any competitive mobility chain and economy should lead to the identification of more concrete measures, based on the IRU’s 3i strategy for achieving sustainable development – innovation, incentives and infrastructure - to help make road transport even greener, as it provides and will continue to provide energy efficient transport solutions for short, medium and long distances, including beyond 300 km.

Moreover, EU transport’s sustainable future can only be realised through increased use of collective passenger transport. IRU Vice-President and President of the IRU Passenger Transport Council, Graham Smith, highlighted: “Buses and coaches offer an enormous, largely untapped potential to reduce CO2 emissions, remove congestion on roads and drastically reduce fatalities. It is essential that the industry’s targets to double the use of bus and coach transport and make better use of taxi services, are fully supported both politically and financially through the actions outlined in the White Paper, as this is the only way to effectively foster change, as advocated by the Smart Move campaign.”

The IRU trusts that the European Parliament and Council will critically assess the Commission proposals and bring some realism back into the future policies and actions foreseen by the White Paper. Following the actions of the White Paper as is, would penalise the EU economy and employment and waste yet another 10 years investing political and financial resources solely in modes that have already proven unable to take up the current and future EU transport challenges.

The IRU is ready, jointly with the European Parliament, EU Member States and the European Commission, to come up with concrete, effective proposals to ensure the continued core contribution of the commercial road passenger and goods transport sector to a competitive and resource efficient EU transport system.

Press contact: Juliette Ebélé, +41 22 918 27 07,



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