Four transport ministers in Brussels in an effort to prevent the collapse of EU road transport market

Date

2019 01 10

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The Polish, Bulgarian, Hungarian and Lithuanian transport ministers urge the European Commission and the European Parliament to stop protectionism in Europe by not imposing barriers for free movement of goods and freedom to provide services. The ministers expressed their concerns to Commissioner Violeta Bulc, EP TRAN committee chair Karima Delli and the rapporteurs of the Mobility Package –day before the TRAN committee votes on its position on the proposal.

Ministers regretfully noted that the initial goals of the Mobility Package have been lost in the negotiations and that national interest and protectionism prevails over European approach. From their point of view, the current drafts of the package are not balanced from the social and market perspective, have clear negative impact on the environment goals and will harm the European economy in general. They also regretfully noted that the rapporteurs have significantly changed their previous positions and they made their approach in general more restrictive, which does not take realities of road transport sector. Numerous European and national representatives from road haulage business, trade unions as well as economic sectors that depend on efficiency of road transport services have voiced similar concerns recently stressing that the mood of end of European institutional cycle makes it difficult to reach a balanced solution on the package.

In their meetings with the Commissioner and MEPs, the Ministers underlined that the split model, which foresees application of posting regime for drivers performing cross-trade and bilateral operations, will lead to fragmentation of the EU market, discriminating some Member States and drivers from these countries. It will impede on the proper functioning of the internal market for road transport, will create disproportionate administrative burden for operators, especially small and medium-sized enterprises and in addition, will deepen the unfair competition between EU and non-EU operators. Setting apart of cross-trade operations will increase risks of further restrictions in the market for this segment of the market.

They also strongly opposed to the proposals linked to the return of the vehicle to the MS of establishment. Ministers reminded that such disproportionate and protectionist measures are illegal and do not respect fundamental principles and policies of the EU.

The ministers called for not imposing further restrictions on cabotage,  keeping at least the curent rules unchanged, pointing out that the small size of cabotage market does not justify the heavy regulation aimed at keeping foreign companies out of this market. Moreover, introduction of additional, new barriers, such as so-called cooling-off period, is clearly protectionist, in particular if foreign drivers will be posted and will receive the local remuneration, and early introduction of smart tachographs will insure proper enforcement.

Ministers reiterated once again that one of the key objectives in the MP I was to improve the social conditions of the drivers so we need to respect the fundamental rights and preserve their choice where to spend the weekly rest. Ministers praised the approach of the European Parliament for taking the rights of drivers seriously and for making sure drivers will be able to choose freely the place of return. 

Ministers were also of the opinion that the total ban for weekly rest in the cabin is impossible under current circumstances. Because of lack of appropriate infrastructure in Europe the proposed measures will not result in better working conditions for drivers. They stressed that all Member States and the European Commission should do their part and provide the drivers with enough resting facilities with secure parking on the European road network.

Enforcement and effective control are the key factors in the present road transport sector and introducing smart tachographs at early dates must be justified by reliable, feasible and cost-effective way. Ministers warned that reckless and theoretically based “last minute” solutions could have severe economic consequences and cause legal uncertainty.

Ministers admitted that instead of balanced provisions that can contribute to well-functioning Single Market, Europe risks imposing restrictive, disproportionate and protectionist measures that go against basic Treaty principles and fundamental EU freedoms. Focusing on the principal goals of the MP I should be the main indicator for the EP to use opportunity and take the right decisions.