Sustainability performance assessment of the transport sector in European countries

  • Sarah Beatriz Gruetzmacher Instituto Politécnico de Bragança
  • Clara Bento Vaz Research Centre in Digitalization and Intelligent Robotics (CeDRI), Instituto Politécnico de Bragança and Centre for Management and Industrial Engineering (CEGI/INESC TEC)
  • Ângela Ferreira Research Centre in Digitalization and Intelligent Robotics (CeDRI), Instituto Politécnico de Bragança
Keywords: composite indicator, sustainable development, Data Envelopment Analysis, Benefit of the Doubt


The transport sector plays a fundamental role in the European Union economy and its efficiency is fundamental to strengthen the region's environmental and economic performance. Unfortunately, the sector still remains heavily dependent on oil resources and is responsible for a large part of the air pollution. The European Union has been promoting various initiatives towards sustainable transport development by setting targets in the sector such as the ones proposed in the 2011 White Paper on transport. Under this context, this study aims at evaluating the environmental performance of the transport sector in 28 European Union countries, from 2015 to 2018, towards the policy agenda established in the strategic documents. The assessment of the transport environmental performance is made through the aggregation of seven sub-indicators into a composite indicator using a Data Envelopment Analysis technique. A variant of the Benefit of the Doubt model is used to determine the weights to aggregate the sub-indicators. The results obtained indicate that the European Union countries have been improving their transport environmental performance in the last two years of the time span under analysis, i.e., 2017 and 2018. Regarding the inefficient countries, results suggest they should improve the transport sustainability mainly by drastically reducing the greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel-based propulsion, increasing the share of freight transport using rail and inland waterways and also the share of transport energy from renewable sources.

= 45 veces | PDF
= 22 veces|


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Sarah Beatriz Gruetzmacher, Instituto Politécnico de Bragança

MSc. Research Centre in Digitalization and Intelligent Robotics (CeDRI)


World Business Council for Sustainable Development. (2016) Sustainable mobility project 2.0: Integrated sustainable mobility in cities - a practical guide.

S. Darda, T. Papalas, and A. Zabaniotou, “Biofuels journey in europe: currently the way to low carbon economy sustainability is still a challenge,” Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 208, pp. 575–588, 2019.

V. Bulc and H. Hololei, Transport in the European Union - current trends and issues, ser. Mobility and Transport, 2019.

European Commission. (2018) EU mobility package: Europe on the move briefing note. Accessed Jan. 2, 2021. [Online]. Available:

E. E. Agency, Progress of EU transport sector towards its environment and climate objectives, ser. Transport and Environment Reporting Mechanism, 2018.

L. P. O. of the European Union, EU Transport in figures. Statistical pocketbook 2019, ser. Mobility and Transport. Imprimerie Bietlot Frères in Belgium, 2019.

J. Zawieska and J. Pieriegud, “Smart city as a tool for sustainable mobility and transport decarbonisation,” Transport Policy, vol. 63, pp. 39–50, 2018.

European Comission, “White paper on transport: Roadmap to a single european transport area: Towards a competitive and resource-efficient transport system,” 2011.

About the sustainable development goals. Accessed Jan. 5, 2021. [Online]. Available:

H. Gudmundsson and M. B. Regmi, “Developing the sustainable urban transport index,” Transport and Sustainable Development Goals, p. 35, 2017.

D. Bongardt, D. Schmid, C. Huizenga, and T. Litman, “Sustainable transport evaluation: Developing practical tools for evaluation in the context of the csd process,” Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transport, Eschborn, Germany, 2011.

N. Kuņicina, P. Waeger, E. Calderon, R. Arce, R. Joumard, J. Nicolas, A. Tennøy, F. Ramjerdi, M. Ruzicka, G. Arapis et al., Indicators of environmental sustainability in transport. An interdisciplinary approach to methods, 2010.

M. Reisi, L. Aye, A. Rajabifard, and T. Ngo, “Transport sustainability index: Melbourne case study,” Ecological Indicators, vol. 43, pp. 288–296, 2014.

S. B. Gruetzmacher, C. B. Vaz, and A. P. Ferreira, “Performance assessment of the transport sustainability in the european union,” ICSC-CITIES 2020: Communications in Computer and Information Science, vol. 1359, 2021.

R. Färe, G. Karagiannis, M. Hasannasab, and D. Margaritis, “A benefit-of-the-doubt model with reverse indicators,” European Journal of Operational Research, vol. 278, no. 2, pp. 394–400, 2019.

L. Cherchye, W. Moesen, N. Rogge, and T. Van Puyenbroeck, “An introduction to ‘benefit of the doubt’ composite indicators,” Social indicators research, vol. 82, no. 1, pp. 111–145, 2007.

A. Hoffmann and E. Giovannini, Handbook on constructing composite indicator: methodology and users guide. OECD, 2008.

B. Talukder, K. W Hipel, G. W vanLoon et al., “Developing composite indicators for agricultural sustainability assessment: Effect of normalization and aggregation techniques,” Resources, vol. 6, no. 4, p. 66, 2017.

A. Charnes, W. W. Cooper, and E. Rhodes, “Measuring the efficiency of decision making units,” European journal of operational research, vol. 2, no. 6, pp. 429–444, 1978.

W. W. Cooper, L. M. Seiford, and K. Tone, “Data envelopment analysis: A comprehensive text with models, applications, references and dea-solver software,” vol. 52, no. 12, 2002.

E. C. C. Tenazas, F. D. M. Gómez, and W. F. Y. Del Valle, “Data envelopment analysis and pareto genetic algorithm applied to robust design in multiresponse systems,” Revista Facultad de Ingeniería Universidad de Antioquia, no. 79, pp. 119–129, 2016.

L. Cherchye, W. Moesen, N. Rogge, T. Van Puyenbroeck, M. Saisana, A. Saltelli, R. Liska, and S. Tarantola, “Creating composite indicators

with dea and robustness analysis: the case of the technology achievement index,” Journal of the Operational Research Society, vol. 59, no. 2, pp. 239–251, 2008.

W. Chung, “Using dea model without input and with negative input to develop composite indicators,” in 2017 IEEE International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management (IEEM). IEEE, 2017, pp. 2010–2013.

C. K. Lovell, J. T. Pastor, and J. A. Turner, “Measuring macroeconomic performance in the oecd: A comparison of european and non-european countries,” European journal of operational research, vol. 87, no. 3, pp. 507–518, 1995.

R. G. Dyson, R. Allen, A. S. Camanho, V. V. Podinovski, C. S. Sarrico, and E. A. Shale, “Pitfalls and protocols in dea,” European Journal of operational research, vol. 132, no. 2, pp. 245–259, 2001.

H. Scheel, “Undesirable outputs in efficiency valuations,” European journal of operational research, vol. 132, no. 2, pp. 400–410, 2001.

Y.-H. Wong and J. Beasley, “Restricting weight flexibility in data envelopment analysis,” Journal of the Operational Research Society, vol. 41, no. 9, pp. 829–835, 1990.

Eurostat database. Accessed Dec. 29, 2020. [Online]. Available:

European Commission, “SHARES tool manual,” Unit E.5: Energy, 2018, accessed Dec. 21, 2020. [Online]. Available:

DIRECTIVE 2018/2001 of the european parliament and of the council. Accessed Dec. 3, 2020. [Online]. Available:

P. Morais and A. S. Camanho, “Evaluation of performance of european cities with the aim to promote quality of life improvements,” Omega, vol. 39, no. 4, pp. 398–409, 2011.

European Comission. (2011) Proposal for a regulation of the european parliament and of the council setting CO2 emission performance standards for new heavy duty vehicles. Accessed Nov. 13, 2020. [Online]. Available:

Regulation (EU) 2019/631 of the european parliament and of the council. Accessed Dec. 3, 2020. [Online]. Available:

W. Melyn, W. Moesen, and K. U. te Leuven (1970-). Centrum voor Economische Studiën, Towards a Synthetic Indicator of Macroeconomic Performance: Unequal Weighting when Limited Information is Available, ser. Public economics research papers. Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 1991. [Online]. Available:

How to Cite
Gruetzmacher S. B., Bento Vaz C., & Ferreira Ângela. (2021). Sustainability performance assessment of the transport sector in European countries. Revista Facultad De Ingeniería Universidad De Antioquia.