Revision of the Weights and Dimensions Directive 96/53/EC

Background

The Council Directive 96/53/EC on the maximum weights and dimensions of heavy-duty vehicles ("Weights and Dimensions Directive") sets standards for the maximum weights and dimensions of heavy-duty vehicles used in national and international transport to ensure the free movement of goods. It removes the obstacles to traffic between Member States and improves the conditions of competition, while protecting the infrastructure and ensuring road safety.

The directive was amended in 2015 (Directive (EU) 2015/719) to help make road transport energy efficient, to reduce greenhouse emissions and improve road safety and working conditions for drivers, and then again by Regulation (EU) 2019/1242, introducing measures to encourage market take-up of zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles. These are generally heavier than conventional heavy-duty vehicles, mostly due to the weight of the battery.

The current revision of directive should address the following problems:

  • fragmentation of the market for the use of oversized and overweighed vehicles;
  • insufficient uptake of alternatively fuelled and zero-emission vehicles and aerodynamic rear devices and cabs;
  • ineffective and inconsistent enforcement of cross-border transport rules for heavy-duty vehicles.

In addition, the directive needs to help meet the climate ambitions of the European Green Deal.

The initiative is part of the Commission's Greening freight package, which includes measures to increase rail use for freight and passenger transport, as well as a revision of the combined transport directive.

 

Key points

The EESC:

  • endorses the proposal to allow a maximum additional weight of 4 tonnes for zero-emission (ZE) lorries only, but calls for a rigorous monitoring policy post-adoption, including immediate policy change should the desired impact not be achieved. However, the EESC is concerned that implementing this Directive may lead to a reverse modal shift. Only by enabling fair framework for all modes of transport, sufficient transport capacity can be guaranteed. The long-term goal of greening the commercial road transport can however be further incentivised;
  • underlines that significant investment and extensive infrastructure modifications will be necessary to support the increased volume of traffic while maintaining current safety standards and installing the essential charging infrastructure for ZE vehicles;
  • does not deem it appropriate to ease cross-border operations for heavier and longer fossil-fuel EMSs, as it undermines the initiative's climate goals. The EESC emphasises the need to implement distinct measures to ensure that all cross-border EMSs eventually reach ZE and that EMSs avoid routes posing risks to cyclists and pedestrians when possible;
  • welcomes the Commission's efforts for promoting administrative and technological solutions to debureaucratize the process of crossing state borders within the European Union.

 

Additional information

Section: Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society (TEN)

Opinion number: TEN/811

Opinion type: Mandatory

Rapporteur: Dumitru Fornea (Workers - Group II / Romania)

Referral: COM(2023) 445 final 2023/0265 COD COM(2023) 445 final 2023/0265 COD

Date of adoption by section: 6 October 2023

Result of the vote: 50 in favour, 18 against, 4 abstentions

Date of adoption in plenary: 25-26 October 2023

Result of the vote: 165 in favour, 2 against, 7 abstentions

 

Contact

Marco Pezzani

Press Officer

Tel.: +32 2 546 9793 | Mob: +32 470 881 903

E-mail: marco.pezzani@eesc.europa.eu

Ágota Bazsik

Administrator

Tel.: +32 546 8658

E-mail: agota.bazsik@eesc.europa.eu

Work organisation