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The Belgian road freight transport sector - 2021

With a population of over 11 million and a territory covering 30,666 km2, Belgium is the second most densely populated country in Europe, just behind the Netherlands. Thanks to its central location and the ports of Antwerp (Belgium) and Rotterdam (Netherlands), the country is a hub for the international transport of goods to and from the European Union. However, the Belgian RFT sector's operations are predominantly domestic (almost 66% of its total activity).

As regards vehicle operating conditions and the working conditions of Belgian drivers, there have been some changes since the 2017 study. Annual vehicle mileage rose to 121,900 km, up from 117,000 km. This is due to the fact that the markets served by the companies surveyed are different and located further away than in 2017, i.e. Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom. The same applies to the number of days vehicles were in operation, which totalled 233 as opposed to 220. Conversely, the annual mileage of Belgian drivers was down, from 117,000 km to 115,000 km.

With regard to changes in the various cost items, there has been a rise in driver cost due to increases in the minimum wage. Driver cost has risen by +1.6% in 4 years, from 56,284€ to 57,168€. The combined (employer plus employee) rate of social security contributions expressed as a percentage of total taxable income is almost 75%, the highest in the European Union. All cost items have risen: tolls (+51%), vehicle insurance (+45%) and vehicle ownership costs (+21.5%). 

All in all, the full cost of a Belgian HGV operating internationally came to 1.26€/km. Compared with the CNR's 2017 study, the full cost per kilometre has risen by 6.5%.