Mobility and Transport

Clean transport, Urban transport

Amendment of the Combined Transport Directive

Amendment of the Combined Transport Directive

Amendment of the Combined Transport Directive
Consultation period: 


The Combined transport of goods is where the major part the journey is carried out by train, ships or barges and is served by a short road leg in the beginning and/or end of the journey. In combined transport the goods are loaded into intermodal loading units (e.g. containers) in the beginning of the journey and these loading units are moved from one type of transport to another without reloading the goods themselves (transhipped). Combined transport is thus both a type of intermodal and multimodal transport.

  • Multimodal transport is transport where the goods or passengers are transported by more than one mode of transport, for example a transport operation involving road and rail transport.
  • Intermodal transport is multimodal transport of goods in single loading units which is transhipped  from one mode of transport to another (such as transport of a container first by road and then by a barge on inland waterway).
  • Combined transport is a type of intermodal transport where the road leg is limited to a short distance and the major part of the route is carried out by rail, inland waterways or maritime transport.
  • Transhipment covers all the actions necessary for the loading unit to be changed from one mode of transport to another mode of transport (such as from road vehicle to a train).

The Combined Transport Directive (92/106/EEC) is an EU instruments that aims to reduce the negative side-effects of goods transport on environment (such as CO2 and other emissions) and on society (such as, congestion, accidents, noise etc) (also called negative externalities) by supporting the shift from long distance road transport to long distance rail, inland waterways and maritime transport as the latter cause less negative externalities. A recent REFIT evaluation of the Directive (final report - executive summary) concluded that the Directive continues to be relevant for achieving EU transport policy's objective as regards the reduction of these negative externalities, however that the effectiveness and the efficiency of the Directive could be further improved. Consequently a revision of the Combined Transport Directive was introduced to the 2017 Commission work programme under REFIT in order to increase regulatory efficiency and reduce costs and burdens.

The Commission has thus launched an impact assessment on the amendment of the Combined Transport Directive and has in this framework approved a consultation strategy under which it is carrying out several consultation exercises. A public consultation was already carried out in 2014 and the current consultations build on its results and are addressing the issues that were not addressed in the 2014 consultation, most importantly the available policy options and their impacts.


The Commission is carrying out two different online consultations with different target groups and deadlines:

1. Open public consultation

Published results

All citizens and organisations are welcome to contribute to this consultation. This consultation can particularly be of interest for citizens as well as organisations or undertakings who take general interest in sustainability of the EU transport system, both as regards its effects on society as well as its competitiveness and effective functioning.

This consultation will last 13 weeks. Responses to questionnaire can be submitted until 23 April 2017 at the very latest. Answers in all EU official languages will be accepted.

2. Targeted consultation

This consultation is aimed at organisations and undertakings that have specific knowledge and interest in combined transport. The consultation questionnaires are detailed and technical and are customised for transport operators and their associations, workers' organisations, shippers and cargo owners and Member States representatives, while other interested parties can also choose to participate in this targeted consultation.

The consultation is open until 31/03/2017:

The questionnaire is in English, but answers in all EU official languages will be accepted. Furthermore, the consultation questionnaire will contain a possibility to upload position papers and general remarks after filling in the questionnaire.

Context, summary of previous analysis and problems identified

The negative externalities of transport create costs for society estimated at 4% of EU GDP in 2011 (projected to increase by around 40% by 2030). The large majority of these (72% of GHG emissions, 97% of accidents) is caused by the road sector, which dominates the freight transport market in EU.. The EU transport policy has set a goal to reduce these effects by supporting a shift from long distance road transport to combinations of other modes of transport (multimodal transport). Furthermore, shift from long distance road transport to multimodal transport helps to create more local jobs improving the quality of jobs in transport sector. The aim is to shift 30% of road freight over 300 km to multimodal transport by 2030, and more than 50% by 2050.

At the same time, the users of freight transport services make their decisions in highly competitive global market with an obvious need to minimize costs and increase efficiency of delivery. The market, unfortunately, does not currently provide appropriate price signals to users to shift from long distance road transport to other modes of transport as social and environmental costs are not fully reflected in transport prices.

In addition multimodal transport has several disadvantages as compared to road only transport that make it difficult to compete with the long-distance road transport. These disadvantages are:

  • The network density of non-road modes is not comparable to that of road. As a consequence, multimodal transport results often in longer delivery times.
  • Transport involving different modes requires transhipment as well as complex planning, both adding to longer delivery times and higher costs;

The Combined Transport Directive (92/106/EEC) is currently the only EU legal instrument that directly supports multimodal transport. Its aim is to increase the competitiveness of combined transport vis-à-vis the road only transport and through that reduce the negative externalities of transport sector. The EU Low-Emission Strategy identifies CT Directive as a tool contributing to decarbonisation objective.

Problems identified

The existing Directive is 23 years old and its effectiveness and efficiency could be improved. The industry has reported problems in several Member States as the transposition and implementation of the Directive is not homogenous. As the Directive addresses specifically cross-border transport between Member States, the smoothness of which depends on minimum differences between the legal systems, as pointed out the respondents to the previous public consultation, it is currently not delivering its full potential for added value in EU.

The evaluation concluded in 2016 as well as the previous public consultation identified the following shortcomings with the current Directive:

  1. Problematic definition: The definition of combined transport is complex and somewhat ambiguous creating problems with the implementation. Furthermore, the definition is limited in scope.
  2. Non effective incentives: The economic incentives (reimbursement of or exemption from road vehicle tax) foreseen are not effective.
  3. Problems with implementation and monitoring:
    1. The provisions relating to transport documents are outdated making it difficult for industry to prove and authorities to control eligibility.
    2. No effective market monitoring exists (no EU wide common terminology based statistics gathering nor reporting of all national measures) making it difficult to ensure appropriate systematic assessment on the need of the economic support.

Background documents

Transparency and confidentiality and disclaimers

Please note that contributions received from this survey, together with the identity of the contributor, will be published on the European Commission's website, unless the contributor objects to publication of the personal data on the grounds that such publication would harm his or her legitimate interests. In this case, the contribution may be published in anonymous form.

Explanations about the protection of personal data

The policy on "protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Community institutions" is based on Regulation (EC) N° 45/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2000.

Important notice

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Please note that this document has been drafted for information and consultation purposes only. It has not been adopted or in any way approved by the European Commission and should not be regarded as representative of the views of Commission staff. It does not in any way prejudge, or constitute the announcement of, any position on the part of the Commission on the issues covered. The European Commission does not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided, nor does it accept responsibility for any use made thereof.