Cross-border traffic of Gigaliners
Around three quarters of freight in the EU is transported by lorries. They are responsible for half of all traffic noise and for 6% of total CO2 emissions in the EU.
Their air pollution and traffic noise contribute to various diseases like respiratory diseases and sleep disturbance.
Lorries also need special infrastructure, which causes costs of more than €70 billion per year.
Cross-border traffic is allowed for lorries weighing up to 40t - a limit which is defined by a European directive. Some Member States allow road use for gigaliners, even bigger lorries of 60t, inside their territory.
After such a law was passed in Sweden, and under pressure from road freight enterprises, the Commission wanted to allow heavy lorries to cross borders between two such states.
What was the Greens' position?
The Greens are convinced that road freight is an inefficient form of transport. Today's real costs are already high, but they only reflect parts of the real costs of traffic noise, air pollution and congestion caused by lorries.
If cross-border traffic of heavy lorries were allowed, its costs would increase even more. Infrastructure would need adjustment, accidents would become more dangerous and noise and pollution would increase.
But we also reject the way the Commission tried to sideline democratic procedures: it simply reinterpreted legislation, instead of formally amending it.
Did other MEPs accept the Greens' position?
There was no legislative procedure, but the Greens introduced a written question on the issue, after Sweden had introduced a law to allow cross-border traffic of gigaliners.
We commissioned two studies confirming that allowing cross-border traffic requires amending existing legislation, instead of reinterpreting it.
Since this legal expertise confirmed our position, we were able to convince the President of the Parliament, Martin Schulz, to appeal to the President of the Commission, José Manuel Barroso. In the end the Commission had to amend the old directive via the regular legislative procedure.
Which points did the Greens lose?
The Commission had decided to issue a restricted reinterpretation of the directive, allowing cross-border traffic of gigaliners between two states, which have allowed such traffic inside their territory - under certain conditions.
Later on, the Commission proposed a new directive on the size and weight of lorries. While the Commission argued mostly that the new directive would reduce pollution and increase fuel efficiency, its main purpose is to allow cross-border traffic of gigaliners.
Lead MEP:Jörg Leichtfried (EPP)
Green MEP responsible:Eva Lichtenberg
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Staff contact:Hana Rihovsky (Email)