EU Road freight transport drops in 2020

In 2020, total road freight transport in the EU fell by almost 1% in terms of tonne-kilometres (tkm) compared with 2019. The lockdowns and other measures imposed by many Member States in 2020 to counter the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on freight transport by road, in particular during the second quarter of 2020. This caused a disruption in the upward trend seen in recent years.

This information comes from data on road freight transport published recently by Eurostat. The article presents a handful of findings from the more detailed Statistics Explained articles on road freight transport statistics and road freight transport by journey characteristics.

Usually, the second quarter of the year sees the highest number of tkm performed. However, the second quarter of 2020 experienced the height of the restrictive measures to counter the COVID-19 pandemic. Compared with the first quarter of 2020, the number of tkm performed in the EU fell by 8 %. Compared with the second quarter of 2019, the tkm performed decreased by 10%.

Despite this, road freight transport recovered to levels even higher than before the pandemic in the third and fourth quarters of 2020. Compared to the third quarter of 2019, there was an increase of more than 2 % in the third quarter of 2020. The fourth quarter of 2020 presented an increase of more than 3 % compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.


COVID-19 restrictions also impacted freight transport across different distances. The tkm performed in the EU over distances of 2 000 km or more was sharply down in 2020 (-8% compared with 2019). There were also declines in the distance classes ‘less than 150 km’ (-2%) and ‘from 1 000 to 1 999 km’ (-1%). The other distance classes recorded minor changes.

For more information: 

  • Malta: data not included as Malta is exempted from reporting road freight statistics. Malta is exempted because there are less than 400 goods road transport vehicles that are registered in Malta and licensed to engage in international transport.
  • Eurostat Statistics Explained articles on road freight transport statistics and road freight transport by journey characteristics
  • Eurostat database section dedicated to transport including road freight transport
  • Eurostat website section dedicated to transport.