The road transport sector is both the lifeblood of and a major contributor to the European economy.
Today, road transport fulfils the overwhelming majority of transport needs for companies and individuals, delivering the goods we take for granted in our homes and workplaces, and the services upon which the business community relies. Indeed road transport accounts for over 75% of all goods transported over land.
In the future, transport demand will increase in line with GDP and trade growth. A conservative estimate would result in a 30% increase in transport activity in the next 20 years. Limiting mobility is not an option, as there will not be a lesser need for flexible transport solutions tomorrow.
All transport modes will therefore need to increase their supply, efficiency and environmental performance, and to work together in a complementary way.
In other words, increased efficiency of each mode as well as intermodality are the keys to meeting the transport demands of the future. It makes no sense to put transport modes in competition with each other.
Indeed, the White Paper goal of shifting road freight over 300km to rail is not supported by any of the most recent independent scientific research, nor does it make sense from an economic or environmental point of view. In fact, contrary to the common assumption, rail is not 'per se' more environmentally-friendly than road.
The increasing demand for freight transport and the continual push to protect the environment clearly pose a challenge to the entire transport sector, as well as to our governments and the energy sector. This challenge impacts the entire European economy.