Transport ministers from countries belonging to Alliance du Routier have appeared in Brussels to block any decisions that would contribute to the liberalization of cabotage. They argue that until there is no agreement on the harmonization of social conditions, there will be no consensus on the question of cabotage – reports Belgian portal transpotmedia.be.
Alliance du Routier is an agreement signed on 31 January 2017 by transport ministers from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, and Italy. Greece has also recently joined this group and the Netherlands has an observer status. The aim of the agreement is to combat social dumping as well as to ensure healthy and fair competition among companies, respect employees’ social rights and improve the safety of drivers.
We regret that most proposals presented, in recent months, by the Presidency (Bulgarian – ed.) with regard to the Mobility package do not respect our objectives, nor those pursued by the European Commission when it initiated this Mobility package. These proposals risk maintaining legal uncertainty and differences in the interpretation of the regulations, making checks more difficult and leading to a deterioration of working conditions of lorry drivers and road safety, while further exacerbating social dumping, unfair competition and systematic cabotage practices at the expense of the already fragile balance of the European and national markets” – reads a joint declaration of ministers belonging to the alliance.
Commission’s proposals on cabotage
Members of the Alliance du Routier met in Brussels last week because Violeta Bulc, European Commissioner for Transport, proposed the abolition of the current system of three cabotage operations over seven consecutive days. Instead, free movement would be introduced in all neighboring countries for five days after unloading in the a given Member State. It is this proposal that is an apple of discord for ministers. They argue that such a provision would contribute to social dumping and would impede drivers’ working conditions. In addition, adjusting the appropriate coordination and control mechanisms would be very difficult in this case.
As reported by the Danish portal, the signatories of the declaration do not comment on other elements of the Mobility Package, including the ban on spending a week’s rest in the cabin. These bans, in turn, outrage carriers and drivers from Central and Eastern Europe.
Ministers stall for time
This attitude of ministers is troublesome because the European Commission assumes that by the end of June it will reach an agreement with the European Council. Now it is unclear how long the debates on the Mobility Package will continue. The French portal Actu Transport Logistique suggests that the countries belonging to the alliance want to „wait out” the Bulgarian Presidency and return to the discussion in the second half of the year, when one of the members of Alliance du Routier, namely Austria, will preside over the EU.
MEPs are also divided on the mobility package and posting directive. There is also no clarity as to how the provision regulating the pause in the cabin will look like and whether the proposal of the Dutch MEP Wim van de Camp, which calls for allowing accommodation in the cabin when there is not enough parking infrastructure, will be considered.