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During today’s meeting of the Transport Committee of the European Parliament, the fate of the Mobility Package will be decided. At a time when the MEPs will vote on the shape of provisions concerning cabotage and working time of drivers, in front of the Parliament building, carriers from Poland, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Romania and Hungary will protest.

MEPs will vote on proposals for a regulation on the posting of workers in transport, driving time and rest period, as well as cabotage. It was these issues that did not gain support during the session in July 2018, when the European Parliament’s position on the Mobility Package was first established. The opinions on proposals that will be voted on today show that they are unfavourable for carriers from Poland and Central and Eastern Europe.

According to the employers’ association Transport and Logistics Poland, the proposals of MEP Rapporteur Ismail Ertug would move the European Union back in time in terms of road transport by at least 20 years. They also narrow the possibility of providing services on a single EU market for bilateral transport.

Ministers convince the MEPs

The government representatives also spoke out on the Mobility Package. Rossen Zhelyazkov, the Bulgarian transport minister, said a few days ago that the countries of Western Europe want to push Bulgarian transport companies out of the market. They are demanding changes in EU regulations that, according to Zhelyazkov, will harm the economy of his country, according to Euractiv.com.

Currently, there is a division into central and peripheral European countries, therefore our demands are supported by such countries as Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Portugal,” said Zhelyazkov.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov believes that if the Mobility Package is adopted without corrections required by truck drivers, Bulgaria and other countries will lose much of their economic potential and a gross domestic product will suffer. Carriers will have to move their business elsewhere. That is why the government supported the carriers and in December, Minister Zhelyazkov announced that the government had prepared a proposal to change the Mobility Package. It will be presented by the Bulgarian MEPs.

Bulgaria will insist on postponing the implementation of rules relating to the ban on weekly rest in lorries until an appropriate infrastructure is created to ensure the safety of drivers and vehicles.

Another important topic for the Bulgarians is the issue of drivers returning every four weeks to their home country. According to the minister, the proposal of provisions imposing such an obligation is inappropriate and unjust because they violate the basic law guaranteeing the citizens of the Union the right to choose a place to spend their free time.

On the other hand, Andrzej Adamczyk, Polish Minister of Infrastructure met yesterday with MEPs who prepared proposals for the rules rejected last year.

We urge the European Parliament not to push protectionist solutions that damage road transport in Poland and the entire European Union,” the minister wrote on Twitter yesterday.

In addition to Adamczyk, the meeting was attended by ministers of transport from Bulgaria, Lithuania and Hungary.

Brussels protest. IRU supports the compromise

Representatives of industry organizations will demonstrate in front of the European Parliament building. Polish Association of International Road Carriers, Linava from Lithuania, UNTRR and FORT from Romania and Bulgarian AEBTRI announced their participation.

On the other hand, IMU (International Road Transport Union) called on MEPs from the Transport Committee not to lose sight of the fundamental principles for road transport of people and goods, professional drivers, the economy and society.

IRU continues to support compromise solutions, but insists on adhering to the four main principles to ensure the successful functioning of the internal market and to protect European jobs, ‚reads the communication on the IRU website.

These four principles are:

Enforcement – rules must be transparent and enforceable by the authorities.

Simplicity – rules must be simple for road transport companies. The mosaic of 28 solutions is not applicable to transport operators and drivers.

Flexibility – the rules must be sufficiently flexible for operators and drivers, while guaranteeing safety.

Special provisions for passenger transport – the separate nature of bus and coach activities provided to millions of passengers from the EU must be regulated by means of adapted provisions on driving time and posting.

IRU reminds on this occasion that flexibility is particularly important. For example, from a study carried out by the BGL transport logistics association in Germany in 2018, the majority of drivers (51 per cent of the 4056 tested) ask for more flexibility when driving and resting. Therefore, as Matthias Maedge, the head of the IRU’s activities in the EU, emphasizes, it is important to understand the profession and its needs in terms of mobility in cross-border and international transport.

The driver should be able to return home within a 4-week billing period. It would also enable operators to tailor their operations in such a way that they can be used for round trips in the University of Warsaw for up to three weeks. The call for less flexibility will only worsen the situation in the European car park,”- comments Matthias Maedge.

He adds that although some of the current proposals on driving and rest times do not meet IRU’s expectations, they are a good starting point for negotiations at Trilog.

Mobility Package

– lex specialis, i.e. detailed regulations on professional drivers in the EU regarding posting. The general rules included in the Directive on Posting have already been established and will enter into force in 2020. However, they do not concern truckers, because due to the specificity of their work, MEPs are currently working on rules that will apply to transport, i.e. Mobility Package.

These works are prolonged and it is not known whether they will be completed at the beginning of next year. Currently, only the position of the EU Council on the Mobility Package is known. It was strongly criticized by some ministers, who described it as „protectionist”. The draft regulations, which the EU Council supported, include:

– the obligation to have second generation digital tachographs,

– limitation of systematic cabotage,

– the need for drivers to return home at least every four weeks,

– and the ban on spending a regular week’s rest in the cabin of the vehicle.

Now the common position must be worked out by the European Parliament, which will not be easy, mainly due to the reluctance of some Western Members to cooperate.

The format of the Mobility Package discussed in the EP consists of three reports on:

– cabotage,

– posting,

– driving time and rest period.

If the EP works out a common position, then it is only within the Trilogue, that is cooperation with the EU Council and the European Commission, that the final shape of the regulations can be determined.

Photo: Pixabay/Pexels

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