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Proposed new European road transport rules have been met with a mixed response, following publication of the European Commission’s Mobility package.
Designed to help the sector remain competitive and fair as it transitions towards clean energy and digitisation, the package ‘Europe on the Move’ includes a wide-ranging set of initiatives.
The commission said it will improve safety; encourage fairer road charging; reduce CO2 emissions, pollution, and congestion; cut red-tape; fight illicit employment and ensure workers’ rights.
However, both the Freight Transport Association (FTA) and International Road Transport Union (IRU) questioned the amount of bureaucracy in it, with the IRU claiming it did little to clarify existing rules.
Furthermore, the FTA said it contained a “worrying” attempt to increase regulation for the vans sector, with head of licensing policy James Firth noting it could hinder business growth.
“The addition of new restrictions on van operators is an unnecessary imposition, the implementation of which will hinder business growth and bring no meaningful benefit to road safety,” said Mr Firth.
“In turn, this will take the focus of the Driver Vehicle and Standards Agency (DVSA) away from enforcing existing laws against operators with dangerous, badly maintained and overloaded vans.”
Pointing to new rules on cabotage, the IRU said the Mobility Package had “regrettably” failed to bring much-needed clarity and simplification to EU road freight legislation and had “missed a trick”.
The IRU said this could lead to “yet more” differences in interpretation of the legislation by member states.
One such difference in interpretation surrounded France’s imposition of a €40 fee for non-French workers operating on French soil as part of its interpretation of the EU’s Workers Directive.
The directive seeks to strengthen the rules of establishment and make it harder for letterbox companies to operate; but industry bodies said France’s interpretation was “blatant protectionism”.
One source told The Loadstar he hoped the Mobility Package would clarify legislation surrounding such directives so member states would know how to implement them.
A source from the European Shippers Council told The Loadstar this morning the package had “finally” clarified the Workers Directive legislation.
Mr Firth said it specified the level of administration that visiting drivers must adhere to, and that the directive should only apply to workers who spend three days or more at a time in a member state.
However, he told The Loadstar that it did not clarify the legality of France’s interpretation of the directive.
Head of the IRU’s work in the EU Matthias Maedge said: “In light of the current deficiencies of the Mobility Package, I look forward to constructive discussions.
“The IRU will continue to be an honest broker in the ongoing discussions; the real hard work on creating workable new rules that bring clarity and simplicity starts now.”
Despite the negativity to some aspects of the package, the FTA, IRU and ESC all welcomed certain proposals within it, including legislation aimed at improving workers’ rights.
“We also welcome the Commission’s efforts to bring greater inter-operability to road charging tools, which should remove the need for multiple boxes in the cab and cut costs for international operators, as well as the proposal to introduce incentives for users of cleaner vehicles,” said Mr Firth.