CLECAT debates revision Weights & Dimensions Directive

CLECAT debates revision Weights & Dimensions Directive

CLECAT — 2023-09-01

News from Brussels

On 30 August, CLECAT was invited to participate in an expert hearing at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on the revision of the Weights & Dimensions Directive. This was the opportunity to present our analysis of the Commission proposal and give preliminary feedback on the draft EESC opinion.

CLECAT reiterates that the objective of the revision of the Directive should be to maximise the operational efficiency of road freight transport, in order to reduce journeys and GHG emissions, as well as facilitate intermodal transport. CLECAT supports the proposal as it at the very least makes it easier for like-minded countries to allow for the cross-border operation of these vehicles as soon as they decide nationally to endorse them. This is why we particularly welcome the provisions allowing cross-border operations of EMS vehicles between countries allowing their national circulation. The provisions aimed at improving intermodal transport are also appreciated.

During the exchange with EESC members and other experts, CLECAT argued that potential concerns about reverse modal shift from rail to road from some stakeholders could not be met by substantial facts and figures: in most cases heavier and longer vehicles, including EMS, have not replaced rail transport but conventional trucks, then reducing the number of trucks on the road and GHG emissions. As freight transport demand is expected to grow significantly over the next years, it is important that all mode should maximise its efficiency to absorb this demand. In addition, CLECAT believes that the use of longer/heavier vehicles will also encourage the development of intermodal operations, with fewer trucks carrying bigger volumes of goods on the road legs of intermodal operations. Finally, several scientific studies concluded that no particular effect on road safety have been demonstrated by the use of heavier/longer vehicles, mostly due to the fact that fewer trips are needed to transport the same amount of goods, reducing the exposure to risk.

Nevertheless, CLECAT fails to understand that the Commission, recognising that heavier vehicles contribute to a reduction of road freight emissions in their own right, proposes to phase out the use of heavier lorries running on fossil fuels, in cross border transport in 2035, while these vehicles can still be allowed in national traffic. There are still uncertainties with regards to the deployment of zero-emission technologies which will greatly rely on the outcome of the proceedings on the CO2 standards for heavy-duty vehicles. Therefore, the provision should continue to apply after 2034.