BGL, FNTR and NLA: ‘Return of the Vehicle’ is crucial to fight letterbox companies and ensure fair competition in Europe

This week, the Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the EU rejected the complaints against the mobility package but recommended to annul the provision on return of the vehicle to country of establishment every 8 weeks. The reason was the absence of an impact assessment but not the content of the measure. Furthermore, the Advocate General have no reservations e.g., when it comes to environmental and climate issues nor discrimination between Member States. The Common Road Transport Office of BGL (Germany), FNTR (France) and NLA (Nordics) strongly warns against this direction, which can open the door for more social dumping practices and nomadic driving in Europe.

As evidenced by the Commission’s own study on the return of truck (the Ricardo study) one third of trucks from Eastern European companies only return once a year to the country of establishment. In some countries 80% or 62% of their fleet is permanently operating outside the country of establishment without any economic connection to the country of establishment but exploiting their remuneration advantages in Western Europe.

This clearly confirms the problem with letterbox companies and highlights that Europe still has a massive problem with nomadic drivers The regular return of the vehicle is an essential part of the Mobility Package and necessary to restore a level playing field and guarantee decent working conditions. It emphasizes the economic link with the established transport company. Each company is free to register its vehicles where its economic activity takes place.

The Common Road Transport Office therefore strongly encourage the European Parliament and the Council of the EU to defend Mobility Package 1 in its entirety including the return of the vehicle provision and if needed to comply with procedural matters in the form of an impact assessment This is needed to ensure good and fair working condition for road haulage companies and their drivers in Europe and fight “flag of convenience” practices.

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