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What is EMS?

European Modular System (EMS) is a concept of allowing combinations of existing loading units (modules) into longer and sometime heavier vehicle combinations to be used on some parts of the road network.

EMS will improve road transport efficiency and reduce its environmental impact.


A new approach to road transport was developed when Sweden and Finland joined the EU in the 1980’s. For environmental and competitive reasons, it was unacceptable for both Sweden and Finland to apply the EU rules on weights and dimensions, as both countries had for a long time prior to this allowed longer and heavier vehicles on their roads. In order to find a solution that would enable foreign transporters to compete on equal terms in Sweden and Finland, a compromise was reached to allow increased vehicle length and weight all over the EU on the condition that the existing standardized EU modules were used. This is the so-called European Modular System (EMS).


The EMS, also referred to as “modular concept”, is defined in Directive 96/53 EC, Article 4, § 4 (b) as follows:


“the Member State which permits transport operations to be carried out in its territory by vehicles or vehicle combinations with dimensions deviating from those laid down in Annex I also permits motor vehicles, trailers and semi trailers which comply with the dimensions laid down in Annex I to be used in such combinations as to achieve at least the loading length authorized in that Member State, so that every operator may benefit from equal condition of competition (modular concept).”


The EMS is a concept “invented” or first introduced by Directive 96/53. Neither 25,25m length nor 60t weight is mentioned in the Directive: those are national rules applying to Sweden and Finland only. Therefore each Member State remains free to allow different combinations of the existing standardized EU modules.