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EC transport commissioner Siim Kallas has bowed to pressure from road haulage federations and shelved plans to introduce a cabotage scheme without restrictions across the EU from 2014.

Last December, France’s leading road haulage federation, the FNTR, teamed up with its counterpart in Scandinavia, the Nordic Logistics Association (NLA), to oppose the move. The Netherlands’ transport and logistics federation, TLN, had also come out against the total liberalisation of cabotage – the movement of goods within a national state – from 2014.

“The FNTR’s efforts have paid off following active lobbying in Paris and Brussels to block the transport commissioner’s commitment to liberalising cabotage at all costs in 2014,” the trade body said.

The creation of a coalition of European road haulage federations against the proposed cabotage legislation had proved its worth, it added.

“At a time of deep economic crisis and in the absence of harmonisation in the European Union on employment and tax regulations, the liberalisation of cabotage was utter folly. It would have cost France and other European countries thousands of jobs.”

Hauliers in the 27 EU member states are at present restricted to carrying out a maximum of three domestic transport operations in fellow member states over a seven-day period, immediately following an international operation. But in 2014 cabotage would have been free of any restrictions.

“The current cabotage restrictions go against the spirit of a European Single Market which guarantees the rights of all citizens to work, travel and trade freely.  Nonetheless, they exist because of fears of possible abuse and lowering social standards,” said EC spokesperson for Transport, Helen Kearns.

“For this reason, we have commissioned a number of studies on the issue. Vice-President Kallas has also established a high level group to look into this issue.

“It is clear that cabotage rules must evolve over the long term, but it needs to be done properly and in consultation with all stakeholders. That process is complex and it takes time – making it difficult to deal with this issue in the lifetime of this Commission.”


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