Dissent grows over EU Mobility Package

Growing list of countries considering legal action

Cyprus, Malta and Estonia joined six other countries in voicing opposition to the EU Mobility Package which comes into effect today (21st August). 

Peripheral countries in the European Union fear the package will have a disproportionately negative effect on them, while affording protection to freight companies in Western Europe.

 The ‘Macron package’, named after the French president who has been a driving force behind the legislation, states that truck drivers must return to their country of registration once every four weeks, regardless of where the driver is located, and that trucks will have to return to the country where their company is based at least once every eight weeks.  In addition, truck drivers will have to sleep in a hotel after the first six nights of sleep in cabins, the cost of which must be paid for by the haulage company.    

Estonia’s Minister of Economy and Infrastructure, Taavi Aas, believes the package is contrary to European internal market principles, making it harder for Estonian logistics companies to compete on a level playing field. The requirement to return to the transport company’s base every eight weeks would mean six empty return trips per year for Estonian haulers, increasing costs.

In addition to fears of higher transport prices, the dissenting countries have shared concerns about the climate impact at a time when the EU is promoting its Green Deal.  The rules could see thousands of empty trucks criss-crossing Europe.

According to the Bulgarian transport minister, Rossen Zhelyazkov, the EU Commission said it would carry out an impact assessment of the proposed legislation. A tender notice for the assessment was published on 10 August. Zhelyazkov has said the nine countries want the impact assessment to be ready before legislation comes into force but assurances to this effect have not yet been made. Bulgaria is hoping the results of the assessment will prompt changes.

The Mobility Package allows for an 18-month transition period, until January 2022, so many of the changes will not be implemented immediately. After this period, the requirement that the remuneration for work must be paid in the country where the driver is posted will come into force. Rules for the performance of cabotage operations will also be come stricter at this point.

The nine transport ministers met recently with European Commission Executive president Frans Timmermans and the commissioner for transport, Adina Valean.

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