On December 3, the Council of the European Union voted on the first tranche of the Mobility Package which includes a number of social and market pillars.
After a lengthy debate which reflects the challenge to align the social aspects with the competitiveness of the internal road transport market across member states, the Council reached an agreement on the following measures:
Weekly rest and return to home country
Hauliers would have to organise the work of drivers in such a way that they are able to return home at least every four weeks. If the driver chooses to take two reduced weekly rests consecutively without return, hauliers should organize drivers’ schedules in such a way that drivers are able to return home after three weeks on the road.
The council retained the original proposal to ban drivers from taking weekly rest in the cabin of their vehicles. To ensure adequate working conditions for drivers, the regular weekly rest and any weekly rest of more than 45 hours must be spent outside the cabin. The burden in this case will fall on transport companies who will have to provide accommodation for drivers when they take regular weekly rest during a long-distance transport operation. To the extent that fatigue is reduced through the new proposals, the risk of road accidents should also decrease.
Bilateral transport and transit operations are explicitly excluded from the posting rules. Drivers will be allowed to make one additional activity of loading/unloading in both directions (on the way to the destination country and on the way back) without falling under the posting regime, or zero on the way out and up to two on the way back. For all other types of operations, including cabotage, the posting rules would apply from the first day of the operation.
Despite calls to further liberalise the European cabotage regime, the Council decided to maintain the current rule allowing a maximum 3 operations in 7 days. To prevent systematic cabotage, a ‘cooling off’ period of 5 days will be introduced before further cabotage operations can be carried out in the same country with the same vehicle. According to some industry experts, the ‘cooling off’ period could reduce capacity.
In order to ensure proper enforcement of cabotage rules in their territory, member states should undertake at least two roadside checks on cabotage operations per year which should make monitoring of compliance more efficient and effective.
Use of tachographs
The highlight of the general approach adopted by the Council is the introduction of more enforceable rules through the implementation of smart tachographs by 2024, which according to the producers of tachographs, can be realistically achieved.
All vehicles carrying out international transport operations should be retrofitted with the second version of smart tachograph by the end of 2024. The second version of smart tachographs will make it possible to register automatically when and where a border has been crossed, and to localise loading and unloading activities. In vehicles which are not equipped with a smart tachograph, the crossing of member state borders should be recorded in the tachograph at the nearest stopping place at or after the border.
In terms of next steps, the Transport Committee of the European Parliament will vote on January 10, 2019 to prepare its position on the Council’s proposals. Depending on the outcome in the Committee, the trialogue between the Parliament, the Council and the Commission could start in February 2019, in view of adopting the final legal texts under the term of the incumbent Parliament. Considering that the European Parliament elections will take place in May 2019, the forthcoming Romanian Presidency will have the task to reach a compromise in a record time. The act will not enter into force until the Parliament and the Council reach agreement on the proposals.
Source: Transport Intelligence, December 20, 2018
Author: Viki Keckarovska
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