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EU Commission criticizes Sweden for its application of the rules on combined transports

December 11, 2020

Through a formal notice to Sweden, the European Commission has criticized the inadequate application of Directive 92/106/ECC on common rules for certain forms of combined transport of goods between Member States (the “Combined Transports Directive”). The notice mainly concerns the Swedish Transport Agency's application of the term "nearest suitable railway station"

A combined transport is a freight transport, including a road transport that may be carried out within Sweden’s borders by a foreign carrier with a Community license. Such road transport is not covered by the restrictions on foreign companies’ road transports within Sweden that the cabotage rules entail. According to the regulations, such road transport must take place to/from the “nearest suitable railway station”.

On 30 October 2020, the Commission decided to send a formal notice to Sweden because the Commission considers that the EU rules on combined transport of goods between Member States in accordance with Council Directive 92/106 / EEC, the so-called The Combined Transports Directive, is not properly applied.

The Combined Transports Directive contains provisions on a special system that are intended to encourage carriers to transfer goods from road transport to rail or shipping for part of the transport. This is called combined transport and aims to reduce emissions from the transport sector and reduce other negative effects of road transport within the EU.

For the reasons set out in the notice, the Commission considers that Sweden has failed to fulfill its obligations under the Combined Transports Directive, by treating a railway station for loading as “suitable” only because the station has the equipment and conditions to handle the goods, and also by treating a railway station for loading as being located beyond the “nearest suitable” in the event that the station is further away than a certain distance (150 km) from the place of loading or unloading and the carrier does not show that there are special reasons for such choice.

According to the Commission, the rules are applied in a way that means that Sweden limits the definition of combined transport, which prevents certain transports covered by the directive from being included in the system. Sweden has two months to respond to the Commission’s arguments. Otherwise, the Commission may decide to send a reasoned opinion to Sweden.

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