Freight Transport in the EU: Facts and Figures
Moving cargo in a cost-efficient, quick, and safe manner is essential for economic growth, national distribution networks, and global trade. Intermodal transport in Europe combines maritime, rail, road, and air transport to account for factors such as delocalization and concentration of heavy and light duty manufacturing facilities and other processing and manufacturing sites.
Road Transport in the EU
Road transport accounts for over 75 percent of freight transport within the European Union. Road transport rates are the highest in Luxemburg based on population size, followed by Lithuania. In terms of national road transport relative to foreign road networks, countries such as Sweden, France, Finland, the UK, and Cyprus have the highest shares of above 90 percent. The share of foreign road transport is higher in countries such as Slovakia, Luxemburg, Slovenia, and Lithuania, ranging from 82.1 percent to 91.9 percent.
Major EU ports are found in countries such as Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands. In 2018, the top 3 European ports were Hamburg, Antwerpen, and Amsterdam, making the Netherlands the biggest maritime cargo shipping country in the EU. In terms of types of cargo shipped, liquid bulk accounts for close to 36 percent of all processed freight, the largest quantity being processed in the Netherlands. Containerized cargo accounts for 23.9 percent of all commodities, followed by dry bulk – 23.2 percent. Ro-Ro units make for just 11.1 percent of all cargo processed by EU ports. The Netherlands and Spain processed the largest volumes of dry bulk cargo.
Germany is the leading air shipping country in the EU, with over 16 million tonnes in 2017. Airports that handle the largest volumes of air freight in Europe include Frankfurt, Paris CDG, Amsterdam, London Heathrow, and Istanbul. In 2018, the Frankfurt Airport processed 2,087 tonnes of cargo, followed by Paris CDG (1,985 tonnes) and Amsterdam (1,708 tonnes).
European logistics providers that serve major airports offer a variety of services, from procurement logistics, consolidation, and first flight out services to complete import handling and full load air freight units.
The share of international railroad transport in EU Member States depends on geographical location. International loadings accounted for close to 16 percent of all loadings in the EU in 2018. National loadings made for 51 percent, transit for 10 percent, and international unloadings for 23 percent. Countries that are strategically located in EU key corridors have higher rates of loadings and unloadings including the Netherlands, Estonia, and Latvia. Island countries and those at the periphery have lower rates, including Denmark and the United Kingdom. Such countries mainly rely on maritime transport to ship cargo to the nearest port and then transport commodities by road.
Countries with the highest shares of rail transit transport include North Macedonia (59 percent), Switzerland (65 percent), and Denmark (83 percent). The highest share of national transport is in countries such as Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom.