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Despite the fact that cabotage partially solves the problems of the German transport industry, the local carriers demand more stringent regulations for this type of transport.

Cabotage has become the subject of many discussions after the presentation of the Mobility Package by the European Commission, that is a series of proposals for the provisions regulating the EU transport market. Although Brussels wants to tighten most EU standards for transport, it has taken an extremely liberal approach towards cabotage. The Commission suggested shortening the period of carrying out cabotage operations from 7 to 5 days, but abolishing their limit. Due to recently published statistics of the Federal Office of Freight Transport (BAG), German media and trade associations have brought back the topic of cabotage.

Increase in cabotage

There is a significant increase in cabotage transport in the European Union. Most operations of this kind are carried out in Germany, and almost 60 percent of them are carried out by Poles, according to the latest data from the European statistical office Eurostat and the Federal Office of Freight Transport (BAG).

Cabotage in Europe has clearly increased – in 2016 by 21.3 percent compared to 2015. The majority of cabotage operations are carried out in Germany (42.7% of all transports of this kind in the EU) and in France (25.4%).

It is worth noting here that Polish carriers, with an increase of 11.5%, carried out one-third of all 2016 cabotage operations in the entire Union, and almost two-thirds (9.3 million tonne-kilometers, or 57.2 percent) at our western neighbor’s. However, it should be remembered that cabotage in Germany still amounts to only 5.8 percent of all transport operations carried out in 2016.

Germany wants to tighten regulations

At the end of last year, the German transport association BGL expressed its objection to the provisions on cabotage included in the Mobility Package. Germany wants to defend itself against „systematic cabotage” and believes that liberalization of the law in this area will lead to abuse.

In the opinion of the BGL president, Adalbert Wandt, the loosening of these provisions is not consistent with their intention, according to which cabotage is to be an exception, not a rule. According to him, it would be necessary to limit the number of days for carrying out cabotage to two and set a maximum monthly number of operations.

Double morality of the Germans?

The purpose of cabotage is primarily to reduce empty runs and traffic jams on roads, which are a serious problem in Germany. Nevertheless, German carriers are demanding stricter EU regulations on this type of transport.

On the one hand, they want to fight „systematic cabotage” carried out by Eastern European carriers. However, on the other hand, German companies also carry out cabotage at home through their foreign branches. Chief Executive of BGL, Prof. Dirk Engelhardt, was asked in an interview with if such a practice „is not double morality”.

The issue of cabotage is primarily about what country is on the registration plate, and secondly, about compliance with the regulations on cabotage, he answered evasively.

During the interview, he also admitted that „you cannot make a living of cabotage alone”.

‚Cabotage in Germany constitutes a small fraction of the local transport market. The real problem of both Polish and German, as well as other foreign drivers is traffic jams,’ comments on BGL’s position Maciej Wroński, president of the „Transport and Logistics Poland” Employers’ Union.

The introduction of stricter regulations on cabotage would increase the number of empty journeys and the number of trucks on the road, making finding a parking space even more difficult than before,’ says Maciej Wroński. ‚The speeches by BGL representatives, which I had the opportunity to hear, were characterized by a very large dose of negative emotions in relation to Polish carriers. I do not understand this and I do not approve of it, I do not believe that building a wall is necessary,’ emphasizes the head of TLP.


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