The Weights and Dimensions Directive of 1996 sets maximum vehicle dimensions and weights for national and international road transport in the EU. However, Member States are able to decide on derogations from these rules for vehicles used only in national transport. Longer and heavier vehicles (LHVs) also known as mega trucks, gigaliners, eurocombis, and ecoliners, typically measure 25.25 metres in length and up to 60 tonnes in weight. They are currently allowed in Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands, and are being tested in Denmark and some German Länder.
Two contrasting visions underlie the discussion surrounding LHVs. Proponents argue that their use can reduce operational costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Opponents disagree, stressing that LHVs would increase safety concerns and infrastructure challenges with respect to pavements, bridges, and tunnels. The various studies on LHVs have not been able to bring more clarity to the debate, given the persisting disagreements on LHV-related impacts.
In April 2013, the European Commission proposed revising the Directive to allow more energy-efficient, aerodynamic vehicles to be put on the market, and to improve road safety. The reactions from stakeholders were mixed, with road hauliers, manufacturers, and shippers supporting the proposal, and rail and combined transport operators and environmental protection associations opposing it.
In April 2014, the European Parliament adopted a report in first reading rejecting the controversial proposal to allow cross-border use of LHVs, and urging the Commission to carry out an impact study by 2016. The study should focus on the effects of crossborder LHV traffic on competition, the environment, safety, the cost of infrastructure modernisation, and the distribution of transport operations by road, rail, and water.