Dutch hauliers “shocked” to learn return of trucks rule applies to trailers too

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Dutch haulage association Transport en Logistiek Nederland (TLN) says it was shocked to learn that the EU's return of trucks obligation also applies to trailers. In addiiton, the organisation has questioned the effectiveness of the enforcement of the regulation.

Dutch hauliers “shocked” to learn return of trucks rule applies to trailers too
Photo credits @ TLN

The 8-weekly obligatory return of trucks regulation was accepted by the European Parliament in the summer of 2020 as part of the latest Mobility Package rules, but came into force only in February 2022.

As Art 5. of the  Regulation (EC) No 1071/2009 writes, an undertaking shall “organise its vehicle fleet’s activity in such a way as to ensure that vehicles that are at the disposal of the undertaking and are used in international carriage return to one of the operational centres in that Member State at least within eight weeks after leaving it”.

At the beginning of June, the Spanish road freight association Fenadsimer leaked an EU explanation about the regulation, which has answered some of the many questions hauliers raised on the topic. Since then, the Q&A sheet has been officially published by the European Commission and can be read HERE.

The guidance starts by explaining which vehicles fall under the rule, and the paragraph that surprised the Dutch association is as follows:

“This rule applies to motor vehicles or combinations of vehicles used for the international carriage of goods for hire or reward that leave the Member State of establishment. As regards trailers or semi-trailers, this rule applies to them to the extent that they are at the disposal of the road haulage operators within the meaning of points (e) and (g) of Article 5 of Regulation (EC) No 1071/2009Search for available translations of the preceding linkEN••• and as such are registered or put into circulation and authorised to be used in conformity with the legislation of the Member State where the undertaking is established […]”.

Commenting on the explanation, a TLN spokesperson said:

“Trailers and semi-trailers obviously do not have a tachograph, so it is unclear how member states can enforce this.”

TLN also mentions that, contrary to previous EC Q&As on the Mobility Package, no consultation took place this time with the European social partners like IRU and ETF – although the EC does give the opportunity to respond to the draft Q&A before the end of June.

TLN: effectiveness of enforcement also questionable

Also, TLN is concerned about the enforcement of the regulation. Any EU country can check for violations of the regulation, but a sanction can only be applied by the country where the company is registered. This is because the obligation to return is part of the criteria for the actual registration requirement, explains the organisation.

If the registration requirements are not (or no longer) met, the permit can be revoked.

“You can thus get large differences between the EU Member States, because some countries can choose not to make the enforcement of the obligation to return a priority. Whether you are for or against this measure, the effectiveness of the measure stands or falls with adequate control,”   says TLN.

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