The issue of regulating trucking in the EU continues to rumble on in the usual Brussels way. The latest batch of regulations present significant problems for any road haulage company with the threat of further problems ‘down the road’.

At present the EU ‘Mobility Package’ is waiting to be approved by the EU Parliament and its Commission. Core to this are new rules about ‘cabotage’. A number of countries, led by France, have been keen to change the rules around the right of truck drivers to work in different states of the EU. These new ‘cabotage’ rules will effectively limit further the numbers of deliveries drivers can make within a member state that is not their own. All drivers will also have to pay social security payments of the state they are driving in and be payed at wage rates appropriate for that state, rather than their own country. One new innovation is an obligation to return to their home country after eight weeks, called a “cooling-off period”. In addition, there is a proposal that drivers will not be able to drive on international routes consecutively.

This latter rule has even annoyed some smaller western European countries whose drivers frequently cross borders even on relatively short-routes. Belgium in particular is critical of this legislation. However, it is the Central European states that are most opposed to the new rules, regarding them as simply an attempt to exclude their drivers from Western European markets. Road freight providers in these countries are predicting extensive job losses.  

These particular regulations are supposed to be agreed by the end of this week, however the various parties are still arguing about the deal. That said, it appears that France will get its way.

Although these rules around cabotage have been mooted for several years and are really driven by French politician’s desire to react to high unemployment in their own country, such regulations are increasingly being subsumed in to the EU’s ‘Green Deal’; something which has become a significant policy fashion in Brussels. Those in the road freight sector should brace themselves for further regulations and possibly taxes on their operations in the context of both CO2 related policies but also attempts to influence transport markets.

Source: Transport Intelligence, December 12, 2019

Author: Thomas Cullen

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