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Cabotagestudien - A study on the movement of international vehicles in Denmark


  • Henrik Sternberg
  • Andreas Holmberg
  • Gustaf Lindquist
  • Günter Prockl

Summary, in English

An open European market for goods and services, including transport services, stimulates trade, global competitiveness and economic growth. At the same time, concerns about domestic job security and the environment have sparked debate. This report should be considered a first modest contribution to a mainly unexplored area in the past. Cabotagestudien consists of a walkthrough of previous research on road freight transport deregulation, a data collection of the movements of international trucks in Scandinavia, method validation and statistical comparison Parts of the data collection presented in this report are based on an innovative app for truck counting that registers vehicle movements with the assistance of 8 000 volunteers. Given the novelty of the methods employed and the lack of statistics, the results must be interpreted by keeping in mind the underlying assumptions of this report.

Our dataset offers three main indications:

1) Cabotage is promoted by policy makers as a way to improve fill rate. Our data as well as the involvement of cabotage hauliers in the study, suggest that some hauliers base their business model on domestic haulage with foreign vehicles, so called “big cabotage”. Given that Denmark has some of Europe’s highest driver wages, cabotage as a business model is a logical consequence. As a business model it is still very limited in Denmark, but from a Danish perspective it is questionable if it improves fill rates. Previous research suggests that deregulation mainly improves cost efficiency, with only minor effects on technical efficiency.

2) Our data gives no indications of any legal infringements of the cabotage rules, meaning that none of the observations indicate any trucks making a fourth trip after an international trip. Since Denmark is a small country with frequent Danish policy controls, there are few incentives and high risks for hauliers to take part in illegal cabotage.

3) The data collected can be used to complement the Eurostat cabotage statistics. After correcting for bias, our data suggest that major portions of new member states’ cabotage operations in Denmark are not included in Eurostat 2012. We suggest an alternative picture based in part on Eurostat and in part on the actual vehicle movements, giving a minimum cabotage penetration in Denmark of 4.6%, with the data providing room for a significantly larger percentage.

Further elaborations on these indications as well as additional data and calculations will be published in the final report on the Scandinavian Cabotagestudien.