What is IRU?
International Road Transport Union (IRU) is an international organisation that handles the issues of road transport in 68 countries on four continents. IRU protects the whole sector, i.e. it protects the carriage of passengers and goods and represents the interest of all the transport companies (bus, taxi and truck drivers). IRU represents its members in all the international organs and has a status of inseparable and considerable partner in governmental institutions, effectively standing out for the interest of its sector.
IRU was established in 1948. The head office is situated in Genova, Switzerland, and it has two permanent representations in Brussels and Moscow. The Brussels branch coordinates IRU politics in EL direction and the Moscow office in CIS countries.
The function of IRU
According to the mandate of UN, the main function of IRU is to protect the interests of road transport and organize the international cooperation of goods and passenger transport, so that it would assure a harmonic and sustainable development of world economy.
In order to fulfil these goals, IRU and the road transport associations of its member countries implement projects with the following nature:
Stimulating the development of road transport by eliminating the artificial barriers, unifying the technical standards and simplifying the rules and customs standards.
Developing the training programs and providing these trainings for transport companies and drivers. A special IRU Academy has been established for this purpose.
Developing the sustainable ideas concerning road transport, especially by increasing the energy sustainability, road safety and environment protection.
Opposition of all the forms that discriminate road transport, both in national and international level. Promotion of multimodal conception of transport and supplementing modes of transport.
As a counselling organ for UN, IRU actively cooperates with the governments and private companies of several countries. IRU also has good relations with the World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, World Trade Organization, World Customs Organization, World Tourism Organization, European Conference of Ministers of Transport, UN Economic Commission for Europe and UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.
Association of Estonian International Road Carriers (ERAA) represents Estonia in IRU, standing for the interests of the sector on national level. Many European countries have similar associations that are also members of IRU.
The practical services for road transport sector are implemented through TIR carnets. Since 1953 the international grant for TIR carnets is IRU. TIR convention is a system that enables the vehicles to pass all borders without interim checks till the arrival to the destination by using customs seals (temple, seal) installed in departure point. TIR carnets actually involve a complex warranty system, which helps to minimize the costs of transport companies and trade organizations, whereas assuring the payments of customs duties. Currently 55 countries have joined the convention. TIR carnets (the main documents of the system) are issued and checked by IRU. After passing through all the border crossing points and delivering the goods, the TIR carnet is sent for inspection to IRU head office.
One of the most important tasks of IRU is the harmonisation of regulations and simplifying the formalising procedure of road transport documents. The purpose of this is to give carriers the opportunity to work more efficiently and to minimize the bureaucracy. Since the carriers must have equal market opportunities, IRU immediately takes measures to eliminate a situation where some national legal provisions discriminate the vehicles of other countries.
The mission of IRU also includes the reflection of the amendments in national legislation, international norms, the dynamics of economic indicators of transport and other relevant issues. This information includes data about the waiting period in many border crossing points in Europe, especially in Central and Eastern European countries, which sometimes offer real difficulties.
IRU membership is not obligatory, but it is accompanied by several advantages.