Source: European Commission, 2021-02-19
The European Commission on 19 February published the results of two studies it commissioned to assess the expected impacts of two specific aspects of Mobility Package I, adopted on 15 July 2020.
These two requirements – the compulsory return of the vehicle to the Member State of establishment every eight weeks and the application of cabotage quotas on international combined transport operations – were introduced by the European Parliament and the Council, and were not part of the Commission's proposals.
During the negotiations on the Package, the Commission made a Declaration concerning these two aspects, expressing concern that they run counter to the ambitions of the European Green Deal. The two provisions had not been subject to an impact assessment prior to adoption of the Package by the co-legislators, and the Commission therefore committed to proceed with a close assessment of their likely climate, environmental, and single market impact. The two studies were undertaken by independent consultants, and have now been finalised. The Commission has shared the results with the Member States and the European Parliament, and those interested can find both studies below.
The results suggest that the return obligation for lorries and the quotas imposed on combined transport operations are likely to have negative effects, including an increase of transport emissions. The Commission is closely assessing the study findings in the context of the European Green Deal, its Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy and the functioning of the Single Market.
The analysis of the return obligation for vehicles shows that in the scenario that according to the study is the most likely to occur, the provision is likely to create additional journeys, potentially resulting in up to 2.9m t of additional CO2 emissions in 2023 (a 4.6% increase in international road freight emissions.) Across the three scenarios that were studied, the increase in CO2 emissions ranges from 0.8% to 4.6%.
The study focusing on the cabotage quotas for international combined transport operations estimates that a widespread use by Member States of the option to introduce them could lead to an additional 397 000 t of CO2 emissions and to potential negative long-term effects on rail and intermodal freight.
Considering the results of both studies, the two provisions could therefore result in up to 3.3m additional t of CO2 emissions annually, which is comparable to a year's worth of total transport emissions in Estonia. They could also generate up to 704 t of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and 251 t of particulate matter (PM2.5.)
The Commission's intention is to open a discussion with Member States, the European Parliament and all concerned parties on the possible ways forward, based on the data and findings of the two studies. The Commission aims to have an open dialogue to assess potential next steps in the light of the need to pursue the Green Deal objectives, the proper functioning of the Single Market, and the need to secure high social standards and the well-being of drivers.
On 31 May 2017, the Commission adopted Mobility Package I, a wide-ranging set of initiatives to address key challenges affecting European transport and mobility. Amongst other benefits, the Package significantly improves working conditions in the road transport sector. Without any new development, the return obligation for lorries and the cabotage quotas on international combined transport operations will become applicable from 21 February 2022.