The Lithuanian National Road Carriers’ Association LINAVA  has called upon the EP president Mr Antonio Tajani, members of the Conference of Presidents as well as rapporteurs and shadow rapporteurs of the Mobility Package 1 to rule out the last-minute decision that  would shape the EU’s transport market in a restrictive, discriminative and disproportionate way. The EP is urged to carry out thorough socio-economic impact assessment of the tabled proposals as well as established  clear EU-level legislation on the application os new rules with regards to the third-countries

The original text of the letter is available below.

The Lithuanian National Road Carriers’ Association LINAVA calls upon you for well-balanced decisions on the Mobility Package 1 that would take into account interests of drivers and businesses from all over the EU. Unfortunately, the currently tabled proposals raise serious problems in terms of socio-economic and legal consequences, the application and enforcement of rules vis-à-vis third country operators as well as ineffective decision-making process.

Socio-economic consequences

The Mobility Package 1, if adopted, will have significantly negative impact on both European citizens and businesses. Specifically, the package includes new restrictions on access to international road transport markets that will cause an increase in the cost of operations for the hauliers, resulting in higher prices for transport services and goods and thus affecting the overall European economy. Certainly, there will be less competition in Europe as road transport operators will have to turn to their national markets with less possibilities to carry goods between different EU MSs.

There is a very high risk that the goals of the social agenda will not be delivered by the package and the working conditions of the drivers will not improve. Drivers from the same EU MSs performing cross-trade and bilateral transport will not be on an equal footing in terms of social entitlements and remunerations. Some of them, employed in peripheral EU MSs, will also be forced to drive thousands of kilometres back home and spend weeks on wheels only to comply with the rule of return home of trucks.

The projected over-restrictive rules on the cabotage market by coupling 3 new measures – application of the Posting of Workers Directive (PWD) from day 1, reduction of a timeframe for cabotage from 7 to 3 days and introduction of a cooling-off period – are purely protectionist instruments without any intended improvement of drivers’ working conditions. The impact assessment of neither of these measures have been carried out. Even more so, the Commission in its initial impact assessment underlined that the reduction of cabotage timeframe from 7 to 4 days or lower could have negative impact on transport market.

The currently tabled proposals will distort the Single Market, fair competition and level playing field, because operators established in EU MSs with high industrial capacity or closer to the major EU goods’ flows will find themselves in a significantly better business environment compared to hauliers from the peripheral EU MSs. Lithuania, with the transport share of 12.1% and around 9% of only road transport of GDP, will take the hardest hit. The vast majority of law-abiding Lithuanian SMEs with the limited administrative and financial capabilities will go bankrupt or relocate to other EU and non-EU countries.

The provisions on the obligatory return of the truck and additional limitation of cabotage operations contradict the objective of reducing the number of empty runs, which is one of the key objectives of the Mobility Package 1, as well as the EU’s objective to reduce fuel consumptions and CO2 emissions. According to the International Road Transport Union (IRU) The obligatory return home of trucks will increase a mileage of HGVs by 45% to 75% and CO2 emissions by 100.000 tonnes per year (more detailed information is at https://bit.ly/2ElE6CG).  Such a major negative impact is disproportionate to the objective sought by the proposed amendment of ensuring the genuine establishment of transport undertakings and curbing the use of letter-box companies.

Many provisions of the package not only substantially deviate from the initial Commission’s proposal, but also are possibly in contradiction with the EU principles of discrimination and proportionality. This applies in particular to the return home of trucks and the splitting of international transport operations. They are not evaluated by the Commission nor any other EU institution, therefore, there is a major need for a proper assessment of their impact on hauliers and drivers from different EU Member States. We believe it would prove those measures absolutely ineffective and damaging in particular vis-a-vis peripheral EU Member States.

The problem of third countries

The Mobility Package 1 aims at achieving level playing field among the EU Member States, however, it will not be the case with regard to the non-EU hauliers. If both the EU and third countries are subject to the rules set out in the Mobility Package 1, it is completely unclear how the Commission will ensure the application and enforcement of requirements by the third countries’ governments, be it roadside checks, checks at the premises, registration to risk rating system or others.

The EU‘s cross-trade market, unlike cabotage, is open to the non-EU operators through permits system. Therefore, putting the cross-trade under the scope of the PWD would require full-scale enforcement vis-à-vis third country hauliers which we find impossible to implement. Consequently, hauliers from peripheral EU MSs working in a stiff competition with non-compliant non-EU hauliers would be the most negatively affected among all.

The problem of the third countries could only be solved by a sound and harmonized control regime within the EU (monitored and regularly reviewed by the European Commission), imposing measures that would deter any systemic incompliance with the rules on posting and other proposals by third countries’ operators. It cannot be done bilaterally by any of the EU MSs since the legislation in transport area is adopted on the EU level and this prevents EU MS from entering into international agreements or adopting other legally binding acts on the subject.

Ineffective decision-making process

The initial proposals of the European Commission on the Mobility Package 1 drove a wedge among EU Member States. The protracted negotiations in the European Parliament have substantially deviated from initial texts, further activating deep and sensitive cleavages of East-West, New-Old and Periphery-Centre, in the times when Europe needs more unity. Despite the declared objectives of the Mobility Package 1, the major part of the TRAN amendments has little to do with neither better working conditions for drivers, nor enforceable and less cumbersome rules, as well as a level playing field business environment.

Even though the Mobility Package 1 is significantly unfit for the initially declared purpose, this bad political deal, reshaping the EU road transport and Single market in a restrictive disproportionate and discriminative way, is still being shamelessly pushed though in the pre-election haste, eliminating proper review and well-informed democratic consideration. The negotiations do not rely on an evidence-based approach assessing impacts on supply chains, industries, SMEs and millions of transport-related jobs in EU Member States. It does not aim at well-balanced economically, socially and environmentally substantiated solution but in contrast has turned into extremely uncertain and chaotic decision-making process with number of unjustified way-out scenarios.

Way forward

As a consequence to the above-mentioned arguments we call upon the following:

  1. Respect the initial objectives of the Mobility Package 1 and rely on an evidence-based approach, assessing impacts on drivers, industries, consumers and EU Member States as well as on well-balanced economically, socially and legally substantiated decisions.
  2. Establish a clear EU-level legislation on the application and enforcement of proposed rules with regards to the third-countries in order to prevent the Mobility Package from failure and decreased competitiveness of the EU MSs’ operators.
  3. Rule out the last-minute decision-making process going into an extremely politicised environment, threatening to shape the EU’s transport market in a restrictive, discriminative and disproportionate way.
  4. We call upon the legal services of the EU institutions to carry out a thorough socio-economic impact assessment as well as legal evaluation on compatibility with the EU law of the Mobility Package 1 proposals currently tabled by the Council and the European Parliament.