France, Germany and six other European countries have asked the European Commission to examine the consequences of the “abusive practices” and “fierce competition” from certain states in the road transport sector.
In a letter to the European Commission, the transport ministers of seven EU member states (Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy and Luxembourg) and Norway, complained that the use of “illegal activities, shell companies and unfair competition are increasingly common” in Europe’s road transport sector.
“We believe it is more and more necessary to dedicate significant resources to fighting these abusive practices,” they said, giving the example of action taken by certain countries to “ban drivers from spending their normal weekly rest time in their vehicles”.
Similar social standards
The eight countries demanded that similar rules and social standards be applied across the EU as “a pre-condition for any discussions on the further liberalisation of the road transport market”.
They also called for measures to “end the activities of shell companies” and to “avoid the unreasonable growth in the use of light commercial vehicles” for the international transportation of goods.
“Europe is a market, but it is also the sharing of common values,” the French Secretary of State for Transport, Alain Vidalies, told AFP.
This joint letter clearly marks “our shared determination to fight unfair competition,” he added.
It also counters a jab led by Poland and supported by ten other European countries in June, against the “disproportionate rules” imposed by France and Germany, aimed specifically at imposing the minimum wage.
The Commission caved in to the Polish pressure and opened an infringement procedure against France’s “systematic application” of the minimum wage in the road transport sector. It opened a similar procedure against Germany in 2015.
“France’s position is firm,” Vidalies said earlier this month. “States cannot let down their defences against such a widespread system of fraud.”