Missed opportunity for simplification of rules for combined transport

Date: 08, November 2017
With its proposal for revision of the Directive on Combined Transport presented today, the Commission is missing the opportunity to seriously promote combined transport and seem to be satisfied with putting a new coat of paint on a building that is fundamentally badly build.

This is the conclusion of NLA following the presentation by the Commission of the new proposal on revision of the rules on support for combined transport.

Even more disappointing is the lack of clarity in the proposal as concerns social rules for road transport operators doing combined transport. This becomes an even bigger problem, because the Commission is proposing to allow the directive also to cover combined transport that is only national, not only international.

“The Commission proposed in May 2017 that international transport in the EU should be subject to the rules of Posting of Workers after 3 days, but that cabotage should be from day 1. The argument being, that cabotage is in more direct competition with local operators, than international transport is. Now the Commission is proposing that combined transport under the directive also can de a national transport and thus Posting of Workers should only apply after 1 days. But the proposal lacks clarity on why the same operation in a Member State must wait 3 days to be covered by Posting of Workers rules if it is defined as international, but only one day if national. The Commission needs to recognise that any road transport leg of a combined transport operation in a member state not carried out by a local operator, is in direct competition with the national operators and social rules must be the same for both operators”, comments CEO of NLA, Soren Larsen

In the explanatory memorandum the Commission states that cabotage rules will apply to at least the road leg of national combined transport. However, this is not clear from the legal text and NLA will seek further clarification of the text.

“The proposal is in any case not a simplification and NLA remains concerned that the further complication of the text just allows for new ways to circumvent road transport rules and do unfair competition”, continues Soren Larsen 

On a more practical level, but no less important, the Commission is looking for solutions to other concerns of NLA. One has been the use of the term “nearest suitable terminal”, where it has been up to the operator to define it. The proposal establishes new criteria as well as need for authorisation from the authorities in order to use terminal further away than 150 km or 20% of total journey. Howeverm further analysis is needed in order to asses if this will de facto solve the problem.

Where the proposal from the Commission does take good steps forward – even if within a framework that remains badly built – regards increased control requirements, documentation requirements, increased cooperation between member states. The Commission also shows that they are fully aware, that a major problem for combined transport is the transhipment costs. The Commission proposes an obligation for member states to take steps to ensure sufficient investments and capacity, to establish a well-functioning network for combined transport.

“We need combined transport in the Nordic countries. It does not make sense to send trucks for thousands of kilometers, when there are railway or maritime alternatives that can be used. Too cheap road transport – caused by unfair competition and social dumping – is making this more and more difficult. We fear the proposal from the Commission today will not change this. Therefore we find the proposal to be a missed opportunity. We will work together with Council and Parliament to hopefully make it better.” ends Soren Larsen.