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The French transport association OTRE has asked the secretary of state at the Ministry of Transport to refer to the EU authorities for permission to ban cabotage for the coming months.  

Last Friday, OTRE sent a letter to Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, Secretary of State for Transport, asking for support of French small and medium-sized carriers in difficulty due to the coronavirus pandemic. OTRE wants Djebbari to ask the authorities of the European Union to introduce a ban on cabotage for the next six months. 

The organization refers to the European Regulation No. 93-3118 of October 25 1993, regulating access to the road transport market. In the event of serious disturbances to the internal market, this measure gives the Member States the option of applying for a safeguard clause, which allows restrictive and safeguarding measures to be taken regarding cabotage.

According to OTRE, only 20-25% of French transport companies deliver basic food, agricultural and medical products. To make matters worse, the transport of these goods is also burdened with a greater risk of empty runs, which, with falling freight rates, exacerbates the situation of domestic carriers. As indicated by the organization, about 80 percent of transport companies in France have experienced a very sharp decline in their activities (25 percent of them have ceased operations completely and 55 percent partially) and as much as 52 percent of the French truck fleet stands unused. 

Also, the organization expressed its concern about the health of foreign drivers and worries as to whether they comply with the rules adopted by the French transport and logistics sector and approved by the Ministry of Labor. 

OTRE also draws attention to the fact that the start-up of the economy in EU countries will not take place at an equal pace. The association does not want to allow a situation in which the resuming industry in France will benefit carriers from other countries, which may carry out domestic transport under cabotage. 

It cannot be expected that we could leave employees in partial unemployment and our vehicles in parking lots, while foreign operators could take over our domestic market in questionable health conditions, „reads the letter to the Secretary of State.

OTRE assures in the letter that there will be trucks in the country in the coming months.

Economic recovery will be slow and gradual. The transport offer is much higher than demand today, it will be so, for many months. Therefore, guaranteeing a minimum activity that will not be intercepted by foreign companies that sometimes use social dumping is crucial for the survival of French transport companies, especially small and medium-sized ones. In this sense, the suspension of cabotage is necessary. The French state must, therefore, protect its businesses, which is the heart of the safeguard clause, no one can deny that the current health crisis is seriously damaging the French internal market, „concludes the union. 

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