Free movement of large shipping containers within Benelux

At the launch of Benelux Logistics Week the foreign ministers of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg approved a decision on the free movement of 45-foot containers by road. Until now, transport companies have had to go through extensive administrative procedures before being allowed to move this type of container across a national border. Transboundary movements in the EU are subject to special permits. To support the logistics sector, the Benelux countries have decided to scrap the special permits and rules, thus facilitating the transport of these containers by road in their territories.

A 45-foot container is a large shipping container measuring up to 13.72 metres long with a capacity of 85 cubic metres. Use of these large containers is on the rise in international container transport. They are also increasingly important in, for instance, the flow of goods between Benelux ports and to major distribution platforms within the Benelux area.

European treaties allow the Benelux countries to go beyond the current status quo in Europe and derogate from EU rules if necessary in order to further the completion of the internal market. Under the Benelux decision, transboundary road transport of 45-ft. containers will be allowed within the Benelux countries subject to compliance with technical requirements concerning, in particular, safety. The decision will only apply to transport companies domiciled in one of the Benelux countries.

In Rotterdam city hall yesterday, the Dutch foreign minister, Frans Timmermans, and his Belgian and Luxembourg counterparts, Didier Reynders and Jean Asselborn – who together form the Benelux Committee of Ministers – approved a Benelux decision on the free movement of 45-ft. containers by road within the Benelux. This will increase the transport options open to haulage companies and reduce their administrative burden.

The logistics federations had raised this issue with the Benelux organisation. Cooperation between the Benelux and transport company representatives soon led to practical solutions to the problems confronting the sector.

The week of 29 September to 3 October is Benelux Logistics Week. The week has been organised with a view to showcasing cooperation between the three countries in the area of logistics.