Independent journal on economy and transport policy
CENTRO INTERNAZIONALE STUDI CONTAINERS
ANNO XXXVIII - Numero LUGLIO 2020
MEPS BLESS MOBILITY PACKAGE WITHOUT FUSS
After reaching a political agreement with the Council back in
December, the Parliament still needed to endorse the package before
it could become part of EU law. All three legal acts ultimately
passed and all proposed amendments were rejected.
"The mobility package promotes fair competition between
operators and improves road safety as well as drivers' working
conditions. The European single market cannot properly function
without fair common rules which are uniformly controlled and
enforced", said one of the legislation's rapporteurs, Henna
Talks lasted three years and exposed a bitter divide between
Europe's west and east, with countries like Bulgaria and Romania
branding the rules the 'Macron Package', a reference to the French
president, while truck drivers turned up en masse in Brussels to
protest the reforms.
MEPs were not unified in their support for the package though
and during the vote yesterday, a noticeable split emerged when
lawmakers were asked whether to adopt or reject the three separate
chapters of the legislation.
Posting of drivers passed 469 votes to 218, cabotage made it
through 513 to 174 and driving time was split 524 to 162.
Take a load off
The new rules say that drivers cannot take their mandatory
weekly break inside their vehicle and that their company will have
to pay for accommodation if the rest period is taken away from the
Virkunnen said that "certain minimum working standards are
needed to ensure a level playing field between operators.
Undermining employment conditions cannot be used as a competitive
"This will put an end to the damaging situation where truck
drivers spent months living and working in their vehicles in
appalling conditions," according to the European Transport
Workers Federation (ETF).
Head of the ETUC trade union Per Hilmersson said the vote "will
prevent companies forcing drivers to spend months on end away from
home, depriving them of their family and social life, while cheating
them out of decent pay and social security contributions."
However, ministers from nine countries opposed to the package -
from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Malta, Latvia, Lithuania,
Poland and Romania - wrote in a recent opinion piece for EURACTIV
that the requirement is not all it is cracked up to be.
"The ban on taking a regular rest in the cabin of a vehicle
is problematic, taking into account the COVID-19 requirements to
keep social distance, as well as lack of adequate accommodation
places and safe parking facilities in the EU," they warned.
Secure truck stops are indeed a serious problem for the sector.
According to the International Road Transport Union (IRU), the lack
of a common standard of what qualifies as a safe facility is part of
An EU study in 2019 found that there is a lack of data on how
many stops are actually needed. The knock-on effects include
estimated annual cargo thefts totalling €8.2 billion and a
decrease in the attractiveness of the profession, due to safety
Single market fight
Socialist MEP Ismail Ertug insisted during a press conference
after the vote that cabotage requirements and a four-day-long
cooling off period are designed to address the "over-capacity"
present in the sector.
New smart tachographs will be phased in to help record border
crossings, driving times and unloading operations. The Commission is
expected to define common standards for the technology.
Trucking firms will also have to demonstrate that they are
active in the member state where they are registered, a new rule
aimed at tackling letterbox companies.
But members of the industry maintain that the package is only
geared towards protectionism and ignores the economic reality of the
coronavirus pandemic that is facing the sector.
"The result of the vote is clear evidence of how profoundly
divisive the Mobility Package is - between East and West, old and
new, centre and periphery, industrial and service-oriented member
states," said the head of Lithuanian's hauliers' association,
"We are extremely concerned that having this gulf deepened,
the EU's peripheral hauliers will miss out on long term benefits of
the Single Market," he added.
Critics of the new rules have also pointed out that the
requirement for trucks to return to their home base on a regular
basis will have a negative environmental impact and that Central and
Eastern countries will be on the hook for increased CO2 output as a
Some estimates say it could produce up to three million extra
tonnes of emissions every year and the Commission is currently
producing an impact assessment on that particular aspect of the
EU transport chief Adina-Ioana Valean said in a statement that
"the social improvements of the Mobility Package I are
significant, and to this end, I welcome the Parliament's vote."
However, she added that "the Commission regrets that the
new set of rules includes elements that are possibly not in line
with the European Green Deal's ambitions and the European Council
endorsement of the objective of achieving a climate-neutral EU by
She confirmed that her services "are currently assessing
the expected impact of these two aspects on the climate, the
environment, and the functioning of the Single Market, and we are
gathering all the necessary information."
When asked about what would happen if the analysis came back
negative, MEP Ertug replied that he did not believe "this
assessment will lead to a negative conclusion."
The analysis, he added, is part of "the destructive
strategy of stakeholders that are against this package".
Extra rules on the posting of workers - which will apply to
cabotage and international operators - will come into force 18
months after the legislation is published in the EU's official
The market access provisions, including the truck cooling-off
period, will also come into force at the end of 2021, while the
trucker rest period requirements will be applicable after just 20
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