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Yesterday, when EU politicians were debating in Sofia at the summit of EU and Western Balkan leaders, demonstrators from the transport industry took to the streets of the Bulgarian capital. The carriers’ protest was organized by the Bulgarian Union of International Road Carriers (SMP). Protests also took place in other regions of Bulgaria, where roadblocks were put in place using lorries.

The protesters are opposed to the proposals included in the draft Mobility Package, which is to regulate the operation of road transport in the European Union countries. In recent days, during the conference „European future of transport in Central and Eastern Europe” held in Sofia, organizations bringing together carriers from Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary have signed a joint declaration.

The document signed in Sofia by SMP, the Employers’ organization Transport and Logistics Poland and the Hungarian Federation of National Private Carriers NIT, is an expression of objection to the provisions of the Mobility Package project.

The Mobility Package will undermine EU freedoms

According to the representatives of the organizations that signed the declaration, these proposals are not an appropriate work model for international drivers, mainly due to the mobile nature of their profession. In addition, carriers believe that the current provisions of the Mobility Package violate the freedom of movement of services in the EU.

EU proposals, which are mainly put forth by the countries of the old Union, assume compensation of earnings for the same work, the obligation to return home every three weeks and the ban on spending the regular weekly rest in the vehicle.

Carriers from Bulgaria, Poland, and Hungary indicate that due to the lack of adequate infrastructure in many countries, including Western Europe, it is unacceptable to forbid rests in the cabin of a truck. The rigid requirement to return to a home country every three weeks is also difficult to implement, especially when carrying out long-distance transport from one end of the Community to the other. In turn, penalties for non-compliance with these requirements are too harsh and may cause the bankruptcy of many, especially small and medium-sized companies.

The Bulgarian prime minister did not convince Western leaders

The transport industry in Bulgaria employs 190 thousand people. Last week, the Bulgarian Parliament obliged the government to defend carriers. Prime Minister Boyko Borisov tried to accomplish the difficult task during a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Aachen. He argued that the losses for Bulgarian transport companies reach about 8 billion euros per year. Unfortunately, as reported by the Bulgarian press agency, Borissov’s claims did not fall on a fertile ground.

France and Germany are tightening their stance on the current version of the Mobility Package. Paris is demanding even stricter rules, claiming that current proposals would make economic and social dumping of carriers from Central and Eastern Europe too easy.

Photo: Facebook/Boyko Borissov

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