ETF points out contradictions in EC’s Greening Transport Package

12 Jul 2023

The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), representing the interests of transport workers across Europe, has taken note of the European Commission’s Greening Transport Package. While it salutes significant advances towards carbon neutrality on the continent, including proposals to use the limited capacities of European railways more efficiently, ETF must point out a striking lack of consistency that needs to be addressed. The ETF expresses reservations regarding the facilitation of cross-border operations of “gigaliners”, the 44-tonne longer and heavier vehicles with European Modular Systems running on fossil fuels.

“While we appreciate the EC’s efforts to promote greener transport, facilitating the cross-border circulation of fossil-fuelled gigaliners is a major blow to the EC’s own goals for carbon-neutral freight,” said Livia Spera, Secretary-General of the ETF.

As a trade union federation representing transport workers, the ETF places great importance on achieving climate neutrality and recognises the need for structural changes in the road transport industry. However, ETF emphasises that longer and heavier trucks require adequate infrastructure, driver training, safety equipment onboard the vehicle, and careful consideration of potential market dynamics that may hinder long-term climate goals.

The ETF is particularly concerned about the combined potential consequences of facilitating gigaliners, whilst an ongoing process will eventually lead to the dismantling of two of the largest rail cargo companies in Europe, FRET SNCF (France) and DB Cargo (Germany). ETF believes that actions that may lead to these companies’ closure contradict the goals of the Greening Transport Package and raise questions about inconsistent policies from the EC regarding the future of sustainable mobility. For instance, in its Smart and Sustainable Mobility Strategy, the European Commission previously committed to targeting only zero-emission vehicles with the revision of the Directive on weights and dimensions.

We urge the European Commission to carefully consider the implications of facilitating the cross-border circulation of fossil-fuelled gigaliners and to engage in meaningful dialogue to address these reservations. We firmly believe that a comprehensive and balanced approach, considering the concerns of transport workers and the environment, is essential for achieving sustainable and responsible transportation.

The ETF remains committed to collaborating with the European Commission and other relevant stakeholders to develop policies that genuinely prioritise emissions reduction, promote greener alternatives, and safeguard the interests of transport workers throughout Europe.