At the heart of EU transport policy

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The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has set out a four-point plan to the European Commission in its response to the mid-term review of the White Paper on European transport policy published in 2001.

The recommendations focus on ways in which transport policies can contribute to the competitiveness of EU industry, through promoting high quality and efficient freight transport. The FTA argued that the Commission’s role should be to focus on the business needs of freight users by building awareness of the different possible combinations of modes within its supply chain.

Using the Road Transport Working Time Directive as an example, FTA highlights the need for legislation implementation dates to be clear and adhered to by all member states. Better regulation which is workable, practical and enforceable The submission cites problems faced by industry in planning for the introduction of digital tachographs and calls for expert advice over technical specifications and realistic timeframes for implementing regulations.

The Channel link between England and France is used as a case study to underline the need for dealing with unlawful blockades and compensation packages for those affected by disruption.

The guiding principle for the policy recommendations is that freight transport costs do matter: they impose a competitive barrier to industry. Distance is no longer a barrier to trade which is why so much European production has moved to China. However, competitive transport in Europe produces results for operator and consumer alike in reduced costs, greater efficiency, reduced energy and fuel consumption and higher performance standards. At the same time everyone else gains through a safer and cleaner environment.

FTA says that EU transport policy should therefore seek to improve the competitive position of EU business. To achieve this, the best interests of the freight transport user should be squarely placed at the heart of policy developments.

James Hookham, FTA’s Policy Director and Deputy Chief Executive said, ‘Brussels has been adding to the costs of moving goods around Europe by a spate of recent legislation – working time, digital tachographs, and soon the driver training directive and new drivers’ hours rules. All of these were first proposed in previous White Papers, so we take this consultation very seriously. Our submission shows that it is now cheaper to move goods from Shanghai to London than from London to Rome. This is not good news for manufacturers in Europe and the Commission needs to understand the impact of its transport policies on business competitiveness in the EU.’

A copy of the complete FTA submission to the European Commission titled ‘Freight users at the heart of transport policy’ is available from:

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