Commission seeks better quality road transport

The Commission wants to adapt rules for haulage and coach services, hoping to minimise time and fuel waste caused by unclear cabotage rules and to stop transport “cowboys”, who give the sector a negative image.

The aim of the three proposals presented by the Commission, on 23 May, is to ensure that road transport in the Union is a high-quality operation by raising the level of professional competence in the sector, increasing compliance with existing safety, social and technical specifications, and introducing new mechanisms for imposing sanctions across national borders. 

The draft Regulations make it compulsory for all companies wishing to operate in the sector to employ a certified transport manager to direct operations and ensure that drivers comply with social and safety legislation. They will also forbid people with convictions for serious offences from entering the business and provide for transport managers’ licences to be suspended for up to two years in case of serious infractions. 

Monitoring of haulage and coach services by national administrations will be simplified, thanks to the introduction of a single Community licence and EU-wide electronic registers. 

The proposals also aim to clarify in which cases hauliers established in one EU country are allowed to carry out freight transport within another member state (so-called cabotage). The purpose is to avoid situations in which trucks return home from their international transport operations with an empty load, thereby wasting time and fuel and producing unnecessary emissions. 

Current rules are vague and have enabled member states to adopt restrictive practices. In France, for example, truck drivers may only practice cabotage for a maximum of 45 days during the whole year. Under the new rules, cabotage will be authorised as often as needed, so long as it is limited to a maximum of three trips, carried out within seven days directly after an international transport operation. 

According to EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot, the new rules will “have a favourable impact on [drivers’] own safety and that of other road users, improve social wellbeing and economic performance, and also contribute to a reduction in fuel consumption and Co2 emissions for the good of society as a whole”.

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