After a couple of years work the European Commission today finally adopted a big package of proposals for a new regime for commercial road transport in the EU. The new rules will have an effect on almost all elements relevant for a road transport company: rules for the establishment of road transport companies, rules on their access to the market in the EU, rules on the social conditions that needs to be applied as concerns pay, driving and rest time, and working time; new rules on the control of road transport companies in the EU; new rules on road charges paid by the industry and a new system for monitoring and reporting of CO2 emissions from road transport. "In other words – quite a mouthful," comments CEO of NLA Soren Larsen
“We remain convinced that with today’s proposals the Commission is genuinely trying to establish more robust, clearer rules for a more fair road transport industry in the EU. However, the Commission is revising quite a number of detailed rules, and the full impact needs further analysis” comments CEO of NLA Søren Larsen ,”As always the devil is in the details, but the first impression is that the proposed rules will apply new, harmonized rules for the social conditions for drivers – such as applying the posting of workers rules from day 1 for drivers in cabotage and after 3 days pr calendar month for drivers in international transport – and this would be an improvement for us and for the EU. However, controls and enforcement will be key and we still believe, that keeping the restriction of 3 operations in 7 days for cabotage makes sense, when you are willing to control and enforce. But we will study the proposal with interest.”
One major proposal is to drop the number of cabotage trips, and only focus on the number of days a haulier can carry out cabotage after an international journey in Member States. The Commission is also proposing significant increase of the controls carried out by Member States, to ensure that cabotage operations are legal, such as the obligation for hauliers to produce documents at the road side check and not days later. At the same time the Commission is confirming that posting of workers rules apply for road transport and establish clear rules for when the rules of posting of workers need to apply based on the link between the operation and the Member State in which it is taking place. For instance is a cabotage operation a strong and direct link between driver and the host country, and therefore it is logical to apply the posting of workers rules directly.
The Commission is also aiming to clarify the rules for rest in the cabin, which is meant to ensure that drivers will be able to return home at least once a month and will only be able to take reduced weekly rest in the cabin.
“What certainly is a priority for NLA is that not only short periods of cabotage will be better regulated but that the new rules also will apply to drivers and vehicles who are operating in several member states over longer periods away from home country” remarks Soren Larsen. ”The new rules will not be acceptable, if it remains possible to escape from rules and regulations by moving between member states, a few days in each, and for vehicles and driver never to return home. The rules and controls need to catch this abuse of the internal market. I am optimistic that this will be the case”
The Commission is also proposing EU rules for the application of financial requirements for operators with vehicles below 3,5 t, which NLA is also welcoming: “It’s an important first step towards creating better conditions and more fair competition in a part of the market, that is growing in size and in problems,” comments Soren Larsen
On road charging the Commission is maintaining its ambition to get Member States to move away from time-based user charges to use tolls based on kilometers driven. The Commission is proposing the phasing out for the Eurovignette from now till January 1, 2024 after which only kilometer based charges will be allowed. However, it remains free for Member States to decide whether to apply charges or not.
“It is a quite ambitious agenda the Commission is setting for the revision of the rules on road charging, including the phasing in of charging based on CO2 standards, when they have been adopted in the EU”, comments Soren Larsen. “Let’s see how much appetite Member States have for such significant changes, but we are concerned if we as an industry just will pay more and more with no benefits for us or the climate.”
In general there is more focus by the Commission on CO2 from heavy goods vehicles. This is both in relation to application of road charging, where the Commission is opening for the possibility to incentivice vehicles emitting less CO2, as well as establishing a system for the monitoring and reporting of CO2 emissions from vehicles for the purpose of collecting better data on the actual emissions from the industry.