Bulgarian MEPs vow to continue the fight against the ‘Macron package’

Bulgarian MEP Andrey Novakov took a journey in a TIR-truck to learn from the experience of Bulgarian truckers. [Facebook page of Andrey Novakov]

Bulgarian MEPs made bullish remarks after they suffered a setback in the trilogue on the Mobility Package last week, which marked a victory in the push inspired by French President Emmanuel Macron to eliminate the comparative advantages of truckers from the Eastern EU countries.

A preliminary agreement was reached on Wednesday evening (11 December) between the Commission, the Parliament and the EU Council on the Mobility Package. Under the deal, heavy-duty truck drivers will be obliged to sleep in a hotel after the first 6 nights of sleep in the cabins, truck drivers will be required to return to the country in which the vehicle is registered once every 4 weeks, regardless of where the driver is located, and the trucks will have to return to the country where the company is based at least once every 8 weeks.

Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Hungary, Latvia and Lithuania oppose the changes, referred to the “Macron package”.

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Transport minister Rossen Jelyazkov stated on Thursday (12 December) that Bulgaria and like-minded countries would take the case to the EU Court of Justice, on the grounds that the Finnish Presidency of the Council had overstepped its mandate. On Saturday, Bulgarian Prime Minister repeated this at the EU summit in Brussels.

“I told them, colleagues, we are now on the one hand focused on the Green Deal, and on the other, we will let thousands of trucks to travel empty across Europe”, Borissov told Bulgarian journalists about his intervention at the summit table.

This idea was developed further by MEP Andrey Novakov from Borissov’s GERB party (EPP), who said he would seek the support of the Greens on the issue.

“We cannot believe that a few hours after the Green deal was adopted calling for carbon neutrality, we are talking about empty trucks being sent across Europe several times a year “, he told TV Europe.

Speaking to EURACTIV Bulgaria, Petar Vitanov, MEP from the opposition BSP (S&D), took a similar position and called the return of the empty trucks to the country where the company is based “cynical”.

“The negotiations about the Mobility Package took place during the night, behind closed doors and in full opacity”, Vitanov said, adding that the preliminary agreement was “forced”, “without any chance to make constructive proposals”. He criticised the Finnish Presidency and the three rapporteurs, who he said had proven that “the EU has long gone two speeds, taking decisions to the detriment of peripheral Eastern European countries”.

Vitanov, who is a member of the Transport Committee, was adamant that the most onerous clauses of the Macron package would not pass Parliament.

MEP Angel Dzhambazki (VMRO, a nationalist party (ECR) in coalition with Borissov’s GERB), was also confident that there is still time for Bulgaria to obtain a better deal. However, in his typical provocative style, he made remarks against some of his fellow MEPs perceived as xenophobic or even racist.

He said that the text introduced at 18.15 hours wasn’t discussed point but point, but declared as adopted. He blamed for that the chair of the Transport Committee Karima Delli, whom he called “a Frenchwoman of Algerian origin” (Greens), helped by “the German of Turkish origin Ismail Ertug”, (S&D).

More on the subject on EURACTIV.bg.

(Edited by Benjamin Fox)

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