Photo credits © Raimond Spekking

Romanian hauliers want to introduce Hungary-style minimum pricing in transport

“We have been asking for a minimum service rate for 16 years. Hungary got it last week. We want it too," says the Romanian road transport union UNTRR. The minimum service rate in Hungary is determined by the cost of road tolls and additional transport costs such as fuel standards and differentials based on fuel standards.

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The National Union of Road Transporters of Romania (UNTRR) is calling for the introduction of a minimum service charge in national road transport, according to the union’s bold press release last week. The call comes after Hungary successfully introduced such a system last week. The minimum service rate is seen as a crucial element in ensuring fair competition and sustainability in the transport market.

As explained by Radu Dinescu, Secretary General of UNTRR, the MSR represents the typical operating costs of heavy goods vehicles engaged in regional or international road transport. It is not the final price, but rather a baseline that includes the necessary legal costs, allowing carriers to comply with legislation and pass these costs on to customers. Dinescu compares it to EURIBOR, the reference rate for the euro money market, with carriers free to negotiate their profit margins within this framework.

The main objectives of introducing minimum service rates are to protect transporters, to ensure compliance with legislation and to regulate fair competition in the market. 

UNTRR emphasises the need for a legal framework to establish and update the minimum service rate with factors such as diesel prices, tolls and other relevant costs. This, they argue, will contribute to the competitiveness of the sector and increase government revenue from transporters’ activities.

The absence of a regulated system of service tariffs has led to challenges for road transport companies in Romania, including pressure from customers on tariffs, additional obligations such as loading and unloading of goods, and the lack of legal provisions on shippers’ co-responsibility. These factors contribute to abusive situations for carriers, such as overloading or accepting below-cost tariffs, distorting competition and affecting the viability of road transport companies, Dinescu stresses.

UNTRR’s call for the introduction of the minimum service rate is in line with the concerns expressed by transport operators in a recent survey conducted by the organisation. Failure to implement the minimum rate, UNTRR warns, could result in a significant increase in operating costs for road hauliers, potentially up to 15% by 2024, negatively impacting the profit margin and overall competitiveness of transport companies.

The consequences of not adopting the minimum service charge system will have a knock-on effect on the economy, potentially leading to price increases throughout the supply chain, argues Dinescu. Road transport accounts for a significant proportion (71%) of all goods transported in Romania, making it a critical aspect of the economy, according to UNTRR’s 'Road Transport Market 2018-2030′ study.

To promote the introduction of reference costs, the UNTRR has submitted documentation to the Competition Council and the National Institute of Statistics based on the model of the French National Road Commission (CNR), which has been in operation since 1949.

UNTRR has been working with CNR for a long time, offering support to the Romanian authorities in establishing a dialogue for the implementation of the minimum service tariff. The organisation has consistently advocated for this system over the past 16 years, proposing a calculation model for specific cost elements.