Dear Member of the European Parliament,
The Lithuanian National Road Carriers’ Association LINAVA calls for well-balanced decisions on the Mobility Package 1 that would take into account interests of businesses from all over the EU. A level playing field as well as fair competition will be distorted if the negative impact of the proposals to peripheral EU Member States is not properly assessed and reflected.
Lithuanian hauliers would like to draw your attention to the case of peripheral EU Member States stressing the following: i) the Posting of Workers Directive (PWD) is inapplicable to international road transport ii) Regular weekly rest in a cabin should be allowed if spent in suitable parking facilities iii) drivers should be free to decide to return home or other place with or without a vehicle.
PWD is inapplicable to international road transport operations
The European Commission (EC) has recently proposed 4 scenarios for further debates on the application of PWD (lex specialis). None of them balances and responds to legitimate concerns of road transport service providers from across the EU, European industries (users), as well as European Parliament’s TRAN committee with half of the European Parliament. The TRAN committee in June approved (in favour – 27, against – 21) the exclusion of international transport from PWD, while July’s plenary rejected the amendment of non-application by only 1 vote (in favour – 332, against – 333).
In this light, together with over 50 like-minded transport and industry organizations from 24 EU Member States, including European cross-sectoral business confederation BusinessEurope, Lithuanian hauliers call upon the European Parliament to continue supporting non-application of PWD to the international road transport operations:
- Excessive administrative burden
The application of PWD to international transport is not feasible due to its hypermobile nature. Drivers and hauliers provide services in several EU members each day. If we force them to comply with different national labour laws, numerous remuneration systems and different social entitlements every day the activity of the vast majority of small and medium size law-abiding companies will be significantly restricted.
- Disproportionate negative impact to peripheral EU Member States
Introduction of quantitative threshold to make posting rules applicable to international transport will distort competition among peripheral EU Member States and those located closer to the centre of the EU. Hauliers and drivers from peripheral states would have to allocate much more financial and administrative resources. Therefore, they will work under pressure in terms of organizing their work and leaving host country within proposed threshold. Furthermore, posting rules would start in force major situations: congestions, accidents, delayed loading/unloading or prolonged administrative procedures.
- Enforcement in third countries
The Mobility Package 1 aims at achieving level playing field among EU Member States, however, it will not be the case with regard to non-EU hauliers. If both EU and third countries are subject to posting, it is completely unclear how the EC and EU Member States will ensure that the third countries’ governments and control authorities are going to enforce the requirements, be it roadside checks, checks at the premises, registration to risk rating system or others.
Enforcement in third countries is key to the Lithuanian and other peripheral hauliers who are in direct competition with the transport companies established outside the EU and work in politically sensitive environment. If non-compliant third-country-hauliers are inspected and sanctioned in any EU Member State, Lithuanian hauliers would be the victims of reciprocal measures from EU neighbours (e.g. extra administrative requirements or reduced number of permits).
Therefore, to compensate the fact that third country operators and their competent authorities are not subject to the EU rules, we call for a stronger and harmonized control regime (monitored and regularly reviewed by the European Commission) with measures that would deter any systemic incompliance with the rules on posting by third countries’ operators.
- No divisions within the concept of international transport
Further divisions of transport operations into smaller categories, i.e. clear international transport, cross-trade, etc. will result in fragmentation of EU’s Single Market and free movement of services bringing us back to the quota system (bilateral, third countries, transit and other permissions), with its negative effects on companies, effective supply chains and jobs.
If corss-trade or any kind of other derivation of international transport would fall under the PWD scope, hauliers located both closer to the EU centre and nearby major goods flows within the EU would benefit the most. Whereas peripheral and small EU markets would have much less flexibility to concentrate their work on transport operations between a state of establishment and a host state. European Single Market ensuring a level playing field and fair competition would be distorted.
The PWD application to cabotage is regarded as a reasonable compromise not only due to cabotage’s internal nature but also due to its isolation from third countries hauliers. Consequently, if PWD is applied to cabotage, only European hauliers would have to deal with posting requirements. However, if PWD applied to cross-trade transport operations, the above-mentioned enforcement problems in third countries would be activated, since they have access to international transport between EU MS states through permits’ system.
Return home of a vehicle – weeks on wheels for drivers form the EU’s periphery
We call upon Members of the EP to give a due consideration to other Mobility Package 1 proposals that could be equally damaging to the effective functioning of EU’s transport market.
The proposal on regular return home of a vehicle in the country of establishment is of utmost of our concern. It would distort a level playing field among peripheral EU Member States and those located closer to the centre of the EU. Not mentioning the environmental issues (e.g. empty runs), the proposal would not improve driver’s working condition as they spent weeks on wheels only to comply with the return home rule.
The cost of compliance among EU hauliers would be disproportionate. Peripheral hauliers would have to allocate more time and financial resources compared to countries closer to the Europe’s centre. For example, a return home journey to Lithuania from Italy or France could take more than one week, if rest times, public holidays and other driving restrictions are included.
Rest in a cabin
Lithuanian hauliers welcome the proposals aiming to improve working conditions of drivers. We support the initiative on safe and secure parking areas for taking regular weekly rest. We are also of the view that a driver should be free to decide whether he/she would like to return home or other place.
However, the proposed ban on weekly rest in a cabin would be inapplicable due to considerable shortage of secure parking lots with accommodation facilities nearby. According to the International Road Transport Union, there are only 11 such parking lots in Germany, 8 – in France, and only 2 – in Belgium. Again, hauliers from peripheral EU Member States could not be as flexible in organizing their drivers rest at home as companies that enjoy the advantage given by the geographical factor.
Lithuanian hauliers would appreciate if members of the European Parliament would continue actively engaging in constructive, fact-based considerations of this significant dossier, ensuring a level playing field and fair competition in the EU Single Market, as well as fighting all forms of protectionism, thus taking into account legitimate interests of peripheral hauliers and industries across Europe.