Freight News, Road

Road transport rules a curate’s egg – updated

[ May 31, 2017   //   ]

The International Road Transport Union (IRU) said that while it welcomed publication of the long-awaited European Commission proposals for commercial road transport and which contained many positive elements, the proposals failed to bring clarity and simplicity.

IRU welcomed the solutions to specific problems including strengthening of rules of establishment, making it harder for letterbox companies to operate, enhanced cooperation between Member States on enforcement, clarification of breaks for double crewed vehicles and rest  periods taken on board a train or boat and flexible driving and rest time rules to allow drivers to ‘reach home’.

But it described the Mobility Package as a missed opportunity.  For example, the new rules on cabotage could result in yet more differences in interpretation by member states and it remains to be seen what economic impact the Posting of Workers rules will have on transport businesses.

Matthias Maedge, who leads IRU’s work in the EU said, “In light of the current deficiencies of the Mobility Package as drafted, I very much look forward to a constructive discussion with the European Parliament, European Council and social partners, including the trade unions. The real hard work on creating workable new rules that bring clarity and simplicity starts now.”

Freight Transport Association Ireland (FTAI) gave the Mobility Package a cautious welcome, arguing that it would cut red tape by reducing requirements for the posting of workers rules and clarifying that double manning of vehicles is allowed. However, the package also contains more worrying elements that will restrict the operational flexibility of operators, such as a ban on regular weekly rest in the vehicle and an attempt to add another layer of regulation to the van sector.

FTAI general manager Aidan Flynn, said: “We recognise the difficulty for the European Commission to meet very different expectations from member states and stakeholders across Europe. We welcome proposals to reduce the ever-increasing administrative burden that our international members have been facing when operating abroad, as a result of the so-called ‘minimum wage rules’, such as the need to have a permanent representative in various countries or to keep copies of payslips in various languages in the vehicle.”

He added: “This patchwork of national requirements has put the integrity of the single market at risk, and created unnecessary costs and red tape for Irish operators, and we can only welcome the European Commission’s attempt at bringing much needed simplification. We would have liked to see higher thresholds under which companies would not be forced to implement these rules, but the Commission’s proposal is a significant step in the right direction.

“We also welcome the Commission’s efforts to bring greater inter-operability to road charging tools, to remove the need for multiple boxes in the cab. The clarification on double manning is also helpful. However, we have serious concerns with other aspects of the package, such as the move to ban drivers from taking their weekly rest in the cab or the unnecessary imposition of bureaucratic rules for vans. Enforcement authorities have limited resources, which should be focused on maintaining road safety and ensuring that operators which do not properly maintain their vehicles or operate overloaded vehicles are penalised.

”The van sector needs to become more professional, but voluntary schemes such as Van Safe are the solution to increase standards in the industry, rather than cumbersome rules that will divert enforcement staff away from essential road safety tasks. Likewise, preventing weekly rest in the cab might sound like an appealing idea but will make operators’ and drivers’ lives much more difficult, due to the lack of appropriate accommodation for drivers.”


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