Germany: no cabotage suspension or toll exemption. But expect stricter controls!

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Germany: no cabotage suspension or toll exemption. But expect stricter controls!

The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) declares that it does not plan to introduce regulations for road transport to protect national companies. It also explains why. It is also known that the government does not provide for a toll exemption either. 

There will be no further restrictions on cabotage in order to protect national carriers, although since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, German transport organisations have repeatedly called for the suspension of cabotage operations for 6 months. Operators have motivated the need for such provisions with a difficult situation, overcapacity and huge price pressure.

However, these appeals have not been answered. As stated by Steffen Bilger, Secretary of State of the German Ministry of Transport, there will be no restrictions on cabotage, nor will there be exemptions from the toll for vehicles involved in intermodal transport. 

Such measures must be coordinated with other European countries,” explained Steffen Bilger in an interview with the German transport magazine “Trans Aktuell”.

“Due to different views in Western and Eastern Europe, we don’t see any chance here. I don’t want to raise false hopes,” added Bilger. 

At the same time, the Secretary of State of the German Ministry of Transport stressed that in this situation, the solution for the industry is to tighten controls to capture any infringements in cabotage operations.

According to the Secretary, the Federal Office for Goods Transport (BAG) is able to cope with this task, especially since 76 additional inspectors will be recruited by the end of this year.  

Cabotage confusion in Germany

As a reminder, shortly after the outbreak of the pandemic, the German Minister of Transport Andreas Scheuer issued a recommendation that the inspection services should refrain from prosecuting and punishing infringements of cabotage regulations until 30 September 2020. This relaxation concerned only the transport of food, medicines and fuels and was intended to secure the supply chain for the most essential articles. However, there was a wave of criticism from German carriers and a week later the Ministry withdrew from the liberalisation of cabotage.

Stricter BAG inspections

BAG announced the intensification of controls on cabotage at the end of April when it also reminded of the amount of fines for this type of illegal operations (up to €200,000). 

Shortly afterwards, the office presented the results of the first inspection campaign, which it carried out in three locations usually crowded with trucks (Logport in Duisburg, Port Mannheim and Großmarkthalle in Munich). A total of 104 vehicles were checked, of which 51 German, 50 from EU countries and 3 registered in third-party countries. Officials found irregularities in 8 German trucks and 13 foreign ones. BAG checked 21 German and 35 foreign truck drivers for compliance with the German Driving Act (FPersG) and detected 3 and 13 infringements respectively. During a check for compliance with the German Road Freight Transport Law (GüKG), which regulates, among other things, cabotage operations, officers detected 1 infringement in 20 German trucks and 3 in 33 checked trucks from other EU countries. As far as cabotage is concerned, officials found only one offence when checking 17 foreign drivers. Interestingly, in the case of MiLoG checks (23 Germans and 23 citizens of other EU countries were checked), not a single infringement was found.


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