Road freight transport is increasingly affected by restrictions on transport across the Brenner Pass implemented by Austria. Since 2010, Tyrol has implemented a series of restrictions on truck passage along the main roadway between Italy and Germany (A12 and A13 highways). These restrictions have since expanded to include a night ban, sectoral restrictions on certain types of goods suitable for rail transport, winter restrictions on Saturdays, and rationing of heavy vehicles accessing highways.

The European Commission, called upon by the Italian government to rule on the issue on the basis of Article 259 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, recently agreed with Italy on most aspects of the dispute.

Indeed, one wonders whether such restrictions really have a reason to exist: considering data provided by ASFINAG, in 2023 11,7 million cars, or 83 percent of traffic, and 2,4 million trucks, or 17 percent of traffic, were circulating along the Brenner Pass. If there were a need to rationalize traffic flows, one would think that institutions would focus on 83% of traffic, rather than 17%.

This would be a fairly obvious consideration to make, but is instead avoided at the policy level because it would affect the tourist economy of the area.

In fact, the perception is that public institutions are very careful to avoid impacts on people’s mobility, ignoring the fact that the Brenner corridor is actually a key artery for logistics: blocking it means blocking supply chains, causing huge damage to European industry.

Affecting the mobility of people, on the other hand, means having, arguably, an immediate negative reaction, but for example, the impact of a delayed car is, in general, less problematic than delaying the goods needed to run a supply chain. In practical terms, moreover, there is a huge potential in modal shift for the mobility of people.

Let’s keep in mind that 70 percent of goods flows from Italy to the European Union and vice versa pass through the Brenner Pass. The priority should be how to secure the logistic flow to avoid any impact on the European economy. What is also completely overlooked is that, although less visible, manufacturing is much more significant in terms of GDP and is dependent on the Brenner corridor: for example, looking at ISTAT data, in the province of Bolzano manufacturing and transport cover 16 percent of value added, while tourism plus catering covers 9 percent.

As for the Genoa-Rotterdam/Scandinavia route as an alternative to truck traffic via the Brenner route, this would result in a huge increase in prices and an extremely significant increase in emissions. It would decrease the competitiveness of industries in the areas served by the Brenner corridor. Obviously, this cannot be considered an optimal solution. However, the logistics chain will have to adjust somehow, and so if the situation worsens, any alternative, including this one, will have to be exploited.

Our CEO Martin Gruber was interviewed on the subject by DVZ magazine:

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