Free movement of goods in EU…or freedom of movement



by Massimo Medugno, DG Assocarta

The European forest fibre and paper industry has expressed the deepest concern about the proposed extension, by the Provincial government of Tyrol in Austria, of the 2016 Sectorial Driving Ban on the A 12 lnntal motorway.

End of December 2018, the authorities from Austrian Tyrol have indeed proposed to apply a new driving ban as of 1 October 2019 to all Euro VI trucks and to specific groups of goods, in particular paper and cardboard.

The justification put forward is the need to intensify road traffic restrictions measures in order to respect the average annual NO2 limits deriving from the EU Air Quality Directive (2008/50/EC). The extension of the sectorial driving ban would cover paper and cardboard products that are considered as “raw materials”, and via the extension of the ban to Euro VI trucks, it would also affect recycled paper. The new proposed ban, by targeting specific categories of products, would go against the fundamental principles of free movement of goods within EU, free choice of means of transport, as well as freedom of purchase.

The ban also violates the principle of proportionality as the application of traffic restriction measures on the grounds of environmental protection is not a suitable measure due to the considerable distortion of competition on the market, putting some specific players and countries at a great disadvantage, namely those who depend on trade and transit traffic flows between Germany and Italy.

Austrian Tyrol is particularly critical for transport connections, as is it one of the most important terrestrial connections between Southern Germany and Northern Italy. The proposed driving ban therefore affects a crucial part of the European transport infrastructure as the Brenner is one of the most important European corridors for the north-south and south-east road traffic, with huge economic stakes involved.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) already found Austrian sectorial prohibitions on road transport on the A 12 not compliant with EU law in the past: two previous regulations were repealed in 2005 and 2011.

The paper industry today massively uses the lowest emitting trucks EURO VI currently available on the market, and shipping companies have heavily invested in these trucks.

Whenever possible, the paper producers use rail transport – especially for long distances, and intermodal transports.

The position of the paper industry is the following:

– Paper and cardboard should not be included as category of goods

– Euro VI trucks should be exempted from any driving ban

At the end the question is: in Europe is there the free movement of goods… or the freedom of movement?