Combined transport of goods. The Commission’s impact assessment

On 19 August 2021, the Commission published its Impact Assessment on the so-called “Combined Transport Directive” in order to improve the possibilities and level of support measures by extending them to a wider set of operations and to incentivise operators to increasingly use intermodal or multimodal transport in the Union in view of a major sustainability of the transport system, thereby reducing its negative externalities and achieving the objectives of the European Green Deal.

The Directive was adopted to target increasing problems relating to road congestion, the environment and road safety and to support the shift from road freight to lower emission transport modes. Since it proved not fully effective nor able to achieve the set objectives, in 2017 the Commission put forward a revision proposal, which was later withdrawn on 29 September 2020 due to the lack of agreement between the European institutions.

The Impact Assessment presents three options for a significant uptake of more sustainable transport modes. More particularly, the Commission will evaluate whether i) to extend the support provided for by the Directive to all intermodal or multimodal operations that save certain negative externalities compared to road only transport based on a common calculation method, ii) to introduce an obligation that the support measures to be adopted by Member States have to be chosen based on regular transport system analysis and planning, thereby also enabling the assessment of their efficiency, and iii) to draft a certain number of mandatory harmonised support measures, such as a support to transhipment costs or per loading unit in intermodal transport provided to shippers/logistics operators. 

Stakeholders will now have until 16 September 2021 to share their views on the above-mentioned options, which will then be used by the Commission to establish an implementation plan helping Member States overcome technical and compliance challenges identified.

Marco Stillo