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High Level Group report on road haulage market fails to make the obvious contribution to driving the Europe 2020 Growth Strategy


21 Jun 2012



The High Level Group report on the road transport market contains some positive elements, but represents a missed opportunity  to recommend obvious measures, such as reintroducing TIR in the EU,  that could enable road transport to drive the Europe 2020 Growth Strategy.

Brussels – The IRU is looking forward to closely reviewing the findings and recommendations of the much anticipated report produced by The High Level Group (HLG) examining the state of the EU single market for road haulage, which was released yesterday.

IRU General Delegate to the EU, Michael Nielsen, commented, “The IRU is pleased that the HLG recognises that road transport is the backbone of all economies, the vital link between all producers, businesses and consumers. As the EU road haulage market has been heavily pressured by both freight forwarders and shippers, driving down prices and forcing companies out of the market in large numbers, it has become evident that the current EU legal framework has failed to address this negative trend or to create sufficient impetus for road transport to generate further growth.”

On initial reading, the IRU is concerned by the possible further opening of EU cabotage activities and the enforcement of these new rules. The IRU agrees that the market cannot be opened without appropriate measures for the harmonisation of road transport related rules, the introduction of a shared liability regime, and access to the profession for freight forwarders, but it remains unclear whether the HLG recommends that both accompanying measures and greater market openness should be implemented simultaneously.

Furthermore, the report’s recommendations on driver shortages and innovation within the sector, although initially interesting, may take too long to implement, affecting their ability to bring about the desired changes that will stimulate the road haulage market, motivate environmental improvements and bring the certainties that operators need. 

The IRU will carefully examine the feasibility of implementing the report’s conclusions and recommendations and will suggest measures based on the industry’s potential to stimulate the much needed growth in the EU and compatibility of the recommendations with the IRU’s strategy for growth.

The ability of the recommendations to create new growth in the EU economy will be at the core of IRU’s concerns. A simple measure, such as allowing the use of the TIR System in the EU was not even considered, despite the HLG acknowledging that two thirds of the EU road freight market is being controlled by freight forwarders, who also control the only transit system allowed in the EU (the T- system) while forcing road transport companies out of the market through dissuasive pricing policies.

Re-establishing competition between transit systems through the re-instatement of the TIR system - which provides better financial guarantees and supply chain security for intra-EU trade of goods under customs control - would immediately boost EU growth by releasing over 600,000 EU road freight transport companies from the control of freight forwarders.

“In fact, it is the IRU’s firm belief – and I am sure this is a shared belief – that any EU growth objective cannot be successful without including the facilitation of an efficient and competitive transport system, where commercial road transport today is and will remain a key driver of economic development., ” Michael Nielsen concluded.

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

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