End of year greeting
The year has been marked by the presentation from the European Commission of not less than 14 (!) proposals for new or revised regulation of the road transport industry. These proposal range far from the issue of use of hired vehicles, over the issue of social conditions to reduction of CO2. Over them all are hanging the issues of social dumping, abuse of the rules for cabotage and combined transport, letterbox companies and shared responsibility.
The discussions have started in both Council and Parliament and they are expected to be tough with mostly two opposing views facing each other. One is the Nordic view – with support from many others such as Germany and France – who wants fair competition and restrictions on cabotage. The other is led by the Visegrad countries – Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic – who wants the Internal Market to allow for the free market for their operators in the Western part of the EU. The positions seem at this point of time as strong as ever and the in-coming Bulgarian Presidency is facing a huge challenge to get the discussion moving.
More than ever is the Nordic cooperation important. In a period of BREXIT and the repositioning of the other big EU countries to consolidate their influence in the EU in the post-UK era, smaller EU countries need to work together. This applies to both the level of authorities and the level of industry. We cannot sit and wait for others to take initiatives and decisions, when in fact we are an economically strong, highly developed technologically and resource-wise and highly qualified region with strong interests but sometimes too small ambitions.
2017 has shown the value of cooperation and joint actions. The Mobility packages from the Commission came also because we had demanded revision of the existing rules. The proposals from the Commission recognize to a large extent our concerns and attempt to find solutions. The Nordic concerns defined the actions that the EU needs to take. At the same time we have been taking own initiatives, such as the Fair Transport initiative in Sweden and Norway, engaging the operators in offering quality services while focusing on social issues, road safety, and the climate and environment.
2017 has also shown a good lesson on how we can have impact on the legislation from EU. The most recent example are the soon-to-be-adopted new rules on training for drivers. We – NLA and our members - managed to get introduced text on need for competence to drive in extreme weather conditions, better systems for checking if the drivers cards and certificates in fact are not fake and possibility for more possibility in the training itself. Now we need Member States authorities to use these possibilities and fulfill their obligations and NLA will continue that fight.
In other words we make and we can make a difference. On this basis we are moving into 2018 with optimism – both for the industry and for our work in Bruxelles. But challenges continue to exist, not least the increasing lack of drivers available for our trucks.