Transport is the key element in the logistics industry but in Europe it is at a crossroads, and no longer sustainable. Integral to the concept of a European Union (EU) is the removal of internal barriers and the creation of a single market. This means that goods should be transported across Europe in a greater variety and number – and faster than before. Accordingly, a single market is based upon four basic freedoms:-
The free movement of goods.
The free movement of services.
The free movement of people.
The free movement of capital.
In order to support these freedoms the EU has abolished frontier controls for people and goods crossing from one member country to another. It has also opened up previously closed national markets for road and air transport and, to a lesser extent, for rail as well. As a result the amount of goods carried, especially by road, has risen sharply.
As such, transport is recognised as the key to providing greater mobility for freight. It helps to determine people’s lifestyles, with goods being transported faster, in greater quantities and variety. However, the European Commission (EC) now sees transport as being the victim of its own success. Today, mobility within the EU is threatened by congestion, delays and pollution. All these issues were recognised EU transport priorities as set out in the Commission’s 2001 transport White Paper, European transport policy for 2010: time to decide.
Since then the EU has been enlarged by a further ten new member states, each bringing its own set of transport problems but overall adding to the growing concern over congestion, delays and pollution. Furthermore, as the EU expands so does the need for a Europe-wide infrastructure investment. In seeking to find a right balance for the future the EC has issued a further policy document, Europe at the Crossroads: The need for sustainable transport, which builds upon the 2001 White Paper.
An increasing demand for more transport has created problems, and it is estimated that every day 7,500km of European highways are blocked by traffic jams. Congestion on roads and at airports adds 6% to the EU’s fuel bill with a corresponding rise in pollution levels. According to the EC’s