European Commission Unveils Green Freight Measures to Cut Emissions and Boost Efficiency

European Commission Unveils Green Freight Measures to Cut Emissions and Boost Efficiency

European Commission Unveils Green Freight Measures to Cut Emissions and Boost Efficiency

(IN BRIEF) European Commission proposes measures to make freight transport more efficient and sustainable, aligning with the European Green Deal’s goal of reducing transport emissions by 90% by 2050. The proposed initiatives include optimizing rail capacity to improve cross-border coordination, punctuality, and reliability, as well as providing incentives for low-emission lorries. Additionally, a standardized methodology for calculating greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector is proposed to promote transparency and enable benchmarking. These measures aim to support the growth of the EU single market while reducing environmental impact. The proposals will now undergo review and evaluation by the European Parliament and the Council

(PRESS RELEASE) STRASBOURG, 11-Jul-2023 — /EuropaWire/ — The European Commission has unveiled a comprehensive set of measures aimed at making freight transport more efficient and sustainable. The proposed initiatives include enhancing rail infrastructure management, providing stronger incentives for low-emission lorries, and improving information on greenhouse gas emissions in the freight sector. These efforts align with the European Green Deal’s objective of reducing transport emissions by 90% by 2050 while promoting the growth of the EU single market.

Optimizing rail capacity for increased efficiency

Railway tracks, both costly to construct and increasingly congested within the EU, will be the focus of a proposed Regulation aimed at enhancing their utilization. The measures seek to improve cross-border coordination, punctuality, and reliability, attracting more freight companies to rail transport. By maximizing network capacity, passengers will also benefit from additional rail services, such as more frequent connections and early ticket booking.

Currently, capacity management rules are determined annually on a national and manual basis. This fragmented approach results in delays at borders, particularly impacting cross-border traffic, which constitutes around 50% of rail freight. Moreover, uncoordinated maintenance work often leads to congestion-related delays. Building upon the industry-led Timetable Redesign Project, the proposed regulation aims to address the diverse needs of the rail sector, including stable timetables and early ticket booking for passengers and flexible train runs for freight shippers with just-in-time supply chains.

Encouraging the adoption of low-emission lorries

Road transport accounts for over 50% of freight movements in the EU and is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. In light of this, the Commission proposes revising the current Weights and Dimensions Directive to allow additional weight for vehicles utilizing zero-emission technologies. As these technologies tend to increase vehicle weight, providing this allowance will incentivize the adoption of cleaner vehicles and technologies. Furthermore, as zero-emission propulsion systems become lighter through technological advancements, including the use of aerodynamic devices and cabs, cleaner vehicles will enjoy additional loading payload compared to conventional lorries.

The proposal also aims to promote the uptake of aerodynamic cabins and energy-saving devices, enhancing driver comfort, safety, and the efficiency of zero-emission powertrains. Additionally, the proposal seeks to clarify the conditions for cross-border traffic involving heavier and longer vehicles, currently allowed in some Member States. It confirms that Member States permitting European Modular Systems (EMS) on their territories can also utilize them in international operations with neighboring Member States, eliminating the need for bilateral agreements and allowing for seamless border crossings. This will result in increased cargo capacity per trip.

Promoting transparency through emissions calculations

To facilitate transparency and enable benchmarking of services, the Commission proposes a standardized methodological approach for calculating greenhouse gas emissions by companies operating in the transport sector. This methodology aligns with the recently adopted ISO/CEN standard for quantifying and reporting emissions in transport chains. By providing reliable data on door-to-door emissions, operators can compare their services, while consumers can make informed choices regarding transport and delivery options.

Next steps

The European Parliament and the Council will now review and evaluate the proposals through the ordinary legislative procedure.


Freight transport forms the backbone of the EU’s Single Market, facilitating the movement of goods across the continent and beyond. In 2020, the sector employed approximately 6 million people. However, freight transport is responsible for over 30% of transport-related CO2 emissions, and without decarbonization measures, emissions are projected to rise alongside the EU’s economic growth. By 2030, freight transport is expected to grow by around 25% and by 50% by 2050.

These proposals are part of a broader effort to promote sustainable mobility and transport. They align with the Fit for 55 package’s objectives, including targets for the deployment of recharging and refueling stations and sustainable fuels in aviation and maritime transport.

To complement today’s proposals, the Commission plans to revise the Combined Transport Directive, aiming to introduce a range of regulatory, operational, and economic measures to enhance the competitiveness of intermodal transport.

Furthermore, these measures complement the Commission’s proposal to update its Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) policy, which seeks to incentivize and require infrastructure development while integrating different modes within a multimodal transport system. Digital technologies, such as the European Rail Traffic Management System, Digital Automatic Coupling for rail, the Electronic Freight Transport Information Regulation, and the European Maritime Single Window Environment, contribute to increasing efficiency.

“Greening Freight Transport” is Flagship 4 of the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, which outlines a roadmap to achieve a 90% reduction in transport emissions by 2050, in line with the European Green Deal. The Strategy includes milestones such as doubling rail freight traffic, ensuring zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles by 2050, and establishing market-ready, zero-emission ocean-going ships by 2030.

Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal – 11/07/2023:

“With today’s proposals, we take another step on the journey to sustainable transport. Every day, billions of goods are traveling on European roads and railway tracks, from harbours and customs points to shops and to our homes. Our proposals will help to get more zero-emission trucks on the road and make sure that this freight is handled in the most sustainable way possible, whether it travels by truck, train or barge.”

Adina Vălean, Commissioner for Transport – 11/07/2023:

“With today’s proposals, we are ensuring we get the best out of the EU’s Single Market. Freight transport in the EU is responsible for an annual turnover of €938 billion, and through our initiatives, we want to increase the availability of rail capacity for freight and cross-border trains; we instate an accurate, homogenous system of counting emissions from transport operations, and we make road transport more efficient.”

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SOURCE: The European Commission


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