Review of the Council Directive 96/53/EC laying down for certain road vehicles circulating within the Community the maximum authorized dimensions in national and international traffic and the maximum authorized weights in international traffic

In “A European Green Deal”

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To implement the European Green Deal, the European Commission in its Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy outlined the action plan to transform the EU transportation system. The action plan listed the revision of the EU rules on weights and dimensions of heavy-duty road vehicles among its planned measures.

The proposal for a new Weights and Dimensions Directive was published on 11 July 2023. 

The proposal provides for new incentives for using low-emission lorries. The current Weights and Dimensions Directive sets the maximum weight length, width and height for heavy-duty vehicles.

The proposal revises these rules to allow additional weight for vehicles using zero-emission technologies, as they tend to increase a vehicle's weight. The aim is to boost the take-up of cleaner vehicles and technologies. 

The uptake of more aerodynamic cabins and other energy-saving devices will also be encouraged, improving driver comfort, safety, and the energy efficiency of vehicles. 

The proposal will also provide clarity on the use in cross-border traffic, in certain conditions, of heavier and longer vehicles, which are allowed today in some Member States. This includes clarifying that Member States who allow European Modular Systems (EMS) in their territories, will also be able to use them in international operations among neighboring Member States which allow EMS, without a need for a bilateral agreement and without a restriction of crossing only one border. 

To encourage intermodal transport, whereby goods are moved using two or more transport modes, lorries, trailers and semitrailers carrying out these operations will be allowed to carry some extra weight. Extra height allowances will also facilitate the transport of high-cube containers by standard vehicles.

The file was referred to the TRAN-committee of the European Parliament on 17 July, where Isabel García Muñoz (S&D, Spain) has been appointed as rapporteur. 

The Commission presented the proposal in TRAN on 9 October 2023. The draft report was presented in TRAN on 16 November 2023. The TRAN Committee voted on the report on 14 February 2024. 

The TRAN Committee report proposes to increase the maximum weight of zero-emission trucks by four tonnes, to compensate the space and weight needed to fit battery or hydrogen cells, and to provide additional loading capacity.

The TRAN report strengthens the governance framework applying to European modular systems (EMS), with an prior assessment for the impacts on road safety, road infrastructure, modal cooperation and the environment. Transport MEPs also call for ensuring that drivers of EMS have the training needed for handling heavier and longer vehicles and vehicle combinations.

A dedicated EU web portal should be set up to provide information about the roads where EMS are allowed to circulate (as well as the national maximum authorised weights and dimensions of vehicles in Member States).

To help road users to identify the type of vehicles, e.g. ahead of overtaking, the TRAN Committee is also proposing an EU label to indicate the length of the HDVs or such vehicle combinations.

To improve enforcement, the TRAN report would oblige Member States to install certified automatic systems that recognize vehicles which exceed maximum weight limits and propose that Member States implement intelligent access policies to regulate and monitor the access of heavy duty vehicles to specific roads.

It also recommends that they use the revenues generated from the penalties under the directive to support sustainable and intermodal transport and smart enforcement.

Discussions in the Council started on 13 July 2023.

References:

Author: Jaan Soone, Members' Research Service, legislative-train@europarl.europa.eu

As of 20/02/2024.