Emotions concerning last week’s compromise on the Mobility Package have not yet faded away. Industry organisations and politicians from different parts of Europe consider the set of regulations for the transport industry to be unacceptable. But that is not all. Even the European Commission is disappointed with the agreement reached on the Package.
EC Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said yesterday in Strasbourg that the EC is disappointed with the outcome of these negotiations.
The Commission regrets that the agreement reached between the Council and the European Parliament contains elements that are not compatible with the objectives of the European Green Deal. This includes mandatory returns of trucks to the countries of registration every eight weeks and restrictions on combined transport operations. The obligation to return, according to the EC Vice President, will lead not only to unnecessary emissions but also to congestion and transport inefficiency. Dombrovskis added that such solutions were not proposed in the original EC project.
“The Commission will therefore carefully assess the impact of these two aspects on the climate, the environment and the functioning of the single market. Following an impact assessment, the Commission will, if necessary, exercise its right to present a targeted legislative proposal before the entry into force of these two provisions,” he added.
The Package will go to the CJEU?
Bulgarian MEP Peter Vitanov, a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism, announced as early as in September this year that Bulgaria will probably ask the CJEU to remove part of the Mobility Package. At that time, it was a provision for the mandatory return of the truck to the country of registration.
Now also Bulgarian transport minister Rosen Yeliazkov is considering contesting part of the Package to the CJEU. It strongly criticises the agreement reached, stressing that improving drivers’ working conditions and road safety are the last elements to be taken into account in reaching this compromise. In his opinion, this is confirmed by the requirement of a mandatory return to the country of registration of the vehicle.
“I will suggest to ministers from a group of like-minded Member States, as well as to all those dissatisfied with unilaterally imposed texts, that they present a joint statement explaining to European citizens that there is a gap between the outcome of the trilogue and the objectives set out in the Mobility Package initiative proposals. I hope that neither the Council, the Commission nor the European Parliament will finally approve such provisions,” Yeliazkov comments.
“The lack of proportionality affects all countries on the periphery of Europe, whether they are located in the west or east, on the Baltic Sea or in the south of the continent. With regard to our position, we have expressed our intention to refer to the EU Court of Justice in order to protect the interests of peripheral Member States. It is clear that the provisions (of the Mobility Package – editorial note) are disproportionate and even discriminatory,” added the Bulgarian Transport Minister.
A similar view is held by Lucian Bode, Romanian Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Communications, who declared that the current form of the Mobility Package is unacceptable to Romania and pointed out that its impact on the transport sector is worrying. In his opinion, the return of the vehicle to the country of registration will generate additional costs and may hinder the development and operation of carriers.
The records of the Mobility Package approved last week are not liked by Belgians either. The preliminary agreement reached last week is criticised by the Belgian minister responsible for mobility, Francois Bellot.
“If this regulation is not adapted, I do not exclude an action before the Court of Justice of the European Union,” he told Knack.be on Monday.
Bellot refers here primarily to cabotage provisions. Currently, truck drivers from Belgian companies are leaving Belgium to transport goods, for example to France, where they perform several cabotage operations before returning home for the weekend. Supplementing work with cabotage allows many companies in Belgium to stay in business.
If the Mobility Package entered into force as it stands, after every three cabotage operations, the vehicle would have a cooling off period of up to four days. During its duration, the vehicle will not be able to make any further transport in the same country. The provision would make it difficult or perhaps impossible for many Belgian carriers to operate.
Italians criticise the resting conditions
Italians, on the other hand, like the European Trade Union Confederation ETF, question the rules on weekly rest for drivers. According to the approved Package, drivers in international transport will be able to take two shortened weekly rests in a row, followed by a regular 45-hour weekly rest. The Italian trade unions Filta Cgila, Fit Cisla and Uiltrasporti criticise this measure as contrary to the European Commission’s objective of halving the number of road accident victims by 2020. The trade unions believe that the new rules will not guarantee drivers adequate recovery after the working week and may have a negative impact not only on their health but also on road safety.
“It is unthinkable that, although for other categories of workers, less at risk of serious accidents, the law provides for eleven hours of rest every day (to guarantee an adequate recovery), and for workers who transport people and goods, the safety of all can be ignored, reducing the daily rest to just nine hours,” says Filta Cgila, Fit Cisla and Uiltrasporti.