27 March 2024


Last week, the Transport and Tourism Committee of the European Parliament discussed the working document by Rapporteur Massimiliano Salini MEP (EPP, Italy) on the European Commission proposal on Combined Transport.

In presenting his working document Mr Salini raised concerns on the Commission's new definition, setting a threshold of 40% reduction in external costs, emphasising the need for clarity on the calculation methodology. It should be preferable to provide simpler conditions to make operations eligible for incentives and to avoid any administrative and operational burden for intermodal operators, he noted. The new approach proposed by the Commission could make combined transport operations excessively complex and burdensome, thus discouraging actors in the logistic chain from opting for combined transport.  The Rapporteur raised concerns on the readiness of e-FTI platforms by the time the Directive enters into force. He also stressed the importance of establishing a clear timeline for revising the Handbook of External Costs of Transport.

Shadow Rapporteur Thomas Rudnier MEP (S&D, Germany) echoed the concern related to the Handbook of External Costs of Transport, arguing the need for a stakeholder consultation in the revision process. Tilly Metz MEP (Verts/EFA, Luxembourg) raised concerns about the exemptions for driving bans in combined transport operations, as this would not support more rail freight .

Annika Kroon, Head of Unit at DG MOVE, highlighted the importance of intermodal transport in greening freight transport. She explained the rationale behind the Commission's decision to pursue a 40% reduction in external costs, arguing that the current distance-based definition did not effectively achieve a reduction of external costs. Ms Kroon reassured MEPs that the Commission is actively working to ensure the timely readiness of e-FTI platforms for the Directive's entry into force, as they will facilitate the calculation of external costs and promote digitalisation. She also confirmed that the revision of the Handbook of External Costs of Transport had already started, with plans to consult stakeholders in the process.

Mr Salini concluded the discussion by thanking the Commission, noting that the main objective of the revision remained to improve the functioning of freight transport within the internal market to increase the EU competitiveness.