Transport & logistics law: the EU mobility package – what you should know
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After three years of negotiations, the „Mobility Package I” was adopted on 8 July 2020. The publication of the new regulations in the Official Journal of the EU was on 31.07.2020. It contains numerous new regulations concerning road freight transport and is intended to harmonise the legal situation in this field within the EU. The new rules will enter into force on different dates. Below we give you an overview of the most important changes.
What are the new regulations in the mobility package?
The Mobility Package I consists of two regulations and a directive. The first regulation focuses on market access for transport companies, while the second regulation contains provisions on minimum rest periods and maximum working hours for drivers. The posting of drivers abroad is addressed in the Directive.
Some selected provisions:
- The Regulation continues to allow drivers to spend their daily rest period in a parking place or in a vehicle. However, for the weekly rest period, the driver must either be given the opportunity to return to his residence or be provided with suitable accommodation by his employer. This accommodation must not be in a parking place, but must be adjacent to it. If this regulation is new for other EU member states, it has been in force in Germany since 2017, so the mobility package should not result in any changes for companies based in Germany.
- A new requirement is that every four weeks drivers must be given the opportunity to return to their place of residence or business to take a weekly rest period of at least 45 hours. The fulfilment of this obligation must be adequately documented by the employer.
- Another key provision concerns the posting of drivers abroad. It is laid down in a standardised way that pure transit journeys are not treated as a posting abroad. Consequently, the regulations of the logistics company’s home country on minimum wages and holidays apply to transit.
- In addition, cabotage operations will be subject to stricter controls in future. Cabotage describes the domestic transport of goods which is undertaken by a foreign logistics company. In order to avoid the circumvention of minimum wages and health and safety regulations of the respective countries, not only the number of cabotage operations will be limited as before: Rather, once such an operation has been carried out, it will not be possible for the vehicle concerned to operate in the same country for a period of four days.
- Letterbox companies have been a thorn in the side of the EU for some time. The Mobility Package I also addresses this issue, requiring logistics companies to carry out regular activities in the country where they are based. Transport vehicles must be returned to their country of registration at eight-week intervals. To ensure that journeys are documented, all vehicles should have a new generation intelligent tachograph by 01.01.2025 at the latest.
When will the rules come into force?
The mobility package I will enter into force in stages from 2020-2025. The rules on driving times and rest periods for drivers will apply 20 days after publication in the Official Journal, i.e. as early as 21.08.2020. The changes concerning the posting of drivers and market access of logistics companies, on the other hand, will only be legally binding from February and May 2022 respectively.
Ultimately, however, it is still questionable whether the Mobility Package I will enter into force in its entirety. Even now there is criticism of the partly inefficient regulations regarding obligatory return journeys and the associated „empty transports”. On 16 September 2020 the Lithuanian government decided to take legal action against the mobility package before the European Court of Justice. There is also resistance in other EU countries, such as Poland, Latvia and Estonia. It is therefore possible that the compromises reached in laborious negotiations will have to be revised again.
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