On 29 January, the European Commission announced its work programme for 2020 and, within it, the withdrawal of the amendment proposal of the Combined Transport Directive. The resulting delay to the modernisation of the Directive can only be justified, if the withdrawal results in the re-tabling of an amendment with an improved, more effective content.
The European intermodal sector greeted the amendment proposal when it was originally introduced by the Commission in November 2017. Several formulations and solutions of the existing Directive 92/106, dating back 28 years, became obsolete, while the changing realities and ambitions require new measures. The original proposal of the Commission, and as it was improved through the legislative process in the European Parliament, already addressed these challenges in a satisfactory manner.
UIRR expressed concerns that the Combined Transport Directive amendment was tabled as part of Mobility Package 2. Intermodality is not a form of road haulage, but an interconnector of the various modes of surface transport. The collaboration between the modes of transport, referred to as intermodal/combined transport, results in a better performing long(er) distance freight transport solution, when compared to its unimodal road alternative.
The climate emergency declaration of the European Parliament and the European Green Deal are evidence of how the broader external circumstances of long(er) distance surface freight transport changed in Europe. On the contrary, the trialogue deal reached in relation to Mobility Package 1 affecting the road legs of Combined Transport regrettably threatens to move the status quo backwards, not forward.
Under such circumstances, the decision of the Commission yesterday to withdraw and then resubmit the CT Directive amendment a year later might be an opportunity. UIRR is hopeful that the removal of the CT Directive from among the transport dossiers currently debated and its re-tabling within a year’s time will ultimately enable the progressive changes that the European intermodal sector needs to perform as expected, to continue as an attractive alternative to unimodal long(er) distance trucking.
The sector will continue with its constructive support of the legislative process, while upholding its arguments against the disastrous Mobility Package 1 trialogue deal: alternative regulatory means exist to achieve the underlying policy objectives, which should be used instead.