ITD: The Road Package is not yet ready for adoption
The meeting is the last council meeting of the Bulgarian Presidency before Austria takes over the Presidency 1 July 2018. On the agenda for the council meeting is again - as expected – the EU Commission’s road package. The Bulgarian Presidency has fought to gather support for a series of compromise proposals to the most difficult proposals in the road package: Posting, cabotage, combined transport and driving and rest time.
In all probability, the Bulgarian Presidency will not succeed in gathering the EU member states on a negotiation result here and now. Austria must take over the baton. They have announced that they want to call a council meeting again at the end of October 2018.
The keen Bulgarian Presidency not succeeding in creating consensus in the road package negotiations is due to especially countries in the so-called ‘Road Alliance’ including Denmark not agreeing on the proposals, presented by the Bulgarian Presidency, not wanting to contribute to more fair rules than those being effective today.
Nobody is impressed with the Bulgarian compromise proposals, and the road alliance points out that the road package is no way ready for consensus on the June council meeting.
At ITD we agree that the road package is not ready for adoption. In a series of important areas we do not agree with the compromise proposals presented by the Bulgarian Presidency.
Posting: International transports must not be covered by the posting directive
The main theme in the road package negotiations has the past years been if and possibly when a driver is to be covered by the posting rules. The EU countries are especially divided regards when and to what extent international operations must be covered. An important discussion here has been if there should be an exemption period for posting the transport field, how long should a period like that be, and is the driving and rest time to be included.
The Bulgarian Presidency has now proposed an exemption period for posting of 7 coherent days within one calendar month for cabotage operations and an exemption for posting of 3 coherent days for cabotage operations.
ITD strongly opposes the Commission’s original proposal for posting on international transports. The premise does according to our understanding not apply to export drivers. The Commission’s proposal will be a huge administrative burden for the companies. Simultaneously, it will be almost impossible for the authorities to control and enforce.
ITD does not either supper the proposal made by the Bulgarian Presidency on introducing posting on the international transports with an exemption period for posting of 7 coherent days.
Cabotage: Cabotage must be covered by the posting directive and control is increased significantly
Another important theme to be discussed at the council meeting is at what extent cabotage operations must be covered by the posting rules, for how long a period is it allowed to perform cabotage according to international operations, and must a waiting period be introduced before next cabotage operation.
A proposal from the Presidency goes on maintaining the current cabotage rules with introduction of a waiting period of 2 days between cabotage operations. The Presidency has no wish like the Commission that cabotage operations must be covered by the posting directive as of day 1.
In relation to cabotage, ITD has for a long time seen a requirement for greater transparency on the rules, uniform interpretation and implementation in the EU member countries as well as increased enforcement and control. Therefore, ITD supports the Commission’s original proposal on cabotage being covered by posting as well as the control on cabotage being increased considerably.
When national transport is performed, meaning cabotage or the national road leg of a combined transport, it can be argued in favour of foreign companies being in direct competition with national companies. ITD does not agree to the Bulgarian Presidency’s compromise proposal not wanting the first days of cabotage to be covered by the posting directive.
ITD also supports the Commission’s original proposal on a new definition for cabotage, where focus is on number of days – not number of operations. It will generate transparency on the rules like it will contribute to the rules to be controlled more effective. Here, we do also not agree on the Bulgarian compromise proposal.
Driving and rest time: 4 week frame for driving and rest time and access to weekly rest in the driver’s cabin
On the driving and rest time area, the Bulgarians propose that the weekly rest time must be arranged within a frame of 4 weeks. And that compensation for a reduced rest must be held before 4 weeks.
Bulgaria also proposes that transport companies must be assigned to arrange the work in order to make the driver return ‘home’ every 6 weeks. ‘Home’ is here defined as the company’s “operational centre” or the driver’s home address, but maintains the possibility of the driver to choose another place of staying the night. The Commission originally proposed every 3rd week without defining “home” closer.
In relation to the possibility for staying the night in the driver’s cabin, the Presidency suggests an exemption rule making it legal to stay the night in the driver’s cabin until sufficient ‘appropriate’ rest areas are established in the EU.
The Presidency also wants staying the night in the driver’s cabin to be legal if there are sufficient other facilities present at dedicated rest areas (‘the British model’).
At ITD we want the operation on the driving and rest area to take place with a consistent 4 week frame in regards to both compensation and opportunity to coming ‘home’. This both in the interest of the balance of the driver’s working life and the practical planning.
ITD also supports the access to taking weekly rests in the driver’s cabin according to the British model, where the truck is parked in a rest area with sufficient facilities. Generally, we are not on line with the Bulgarian proposal concerning driving and rest time either.
ITD works continuously hard on securing joint European solutions for the transport industry
The negotiations will be ongoing for still many months and more compromise proposals will be put on the table.
At ITD we continue to work offensive and constructive on securing joint solutions for our industry which will receive support all over the EU. The negotiation process shows clearly that it is not an easy task. However, we continuously hope that the coming final road package will ensure clearly improved common rules on the transport area gathering the EU member countries. We badly need strong, joint framework conditions from the EU supporting our companies and placing Denmark strongly in the international competition.
It requires clear, unambiguous rules for all companies in the EU, making the companies know which rules they must comply with. It requires rules regulating appropriate in all parts of the industry and simultaneously supporting efficient planning of the transports. It requires the rules being interpreted uniform in the EU countries. Finally, it requires enforcement of the rules and - not least - efficient enforcement.
Especially efficient enforcement of the rules is and becomes very crucial. It is no use making new rules if the rules are not controlled or enforced.
In future, larger investments shall and must be made in efficient control in the EU. If the final road package result cannot fulfil that, the whole negotiation process can have been in vain.