European Parliament green lights major reform of road transport sector

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The new trucking and road haulage rules proposed  by the European Commission were given their thumbs up by the European Parliament despite opposition by MEPs from a number of countries, including Malta and the Eastern European states.

MEPs endorsed all three legal acts without any amendments, as adopted by EU ministers in April 2020. The political agreement with the Council was reached in December 2019.

The revised rules for posting of drivers, drivers’ driving times and rest periods and better enforcement of cabotage rules (i.e. transport of goods carried out by non-resident hauliers on a temporary basis in a host member state) aim to put an end to distortion of competition in the road transport sector and provide better rest conditions for drivers.

The new rules will help to ensure better rest conditions and allow drivers to spend more time at home. Companies will have to organise their timetables so that drivers in international freight transport are able to return home at regular intervals (every three or four weeks depending on the work schedule). The mandatory regular weekly rest cannot be taken in the truck cab. If this rest period is taken away from home, the company must pay for accommodation costs.
Maltese MEPs and other lawmakers from a number of countries on the periphery insisted that these acts will create an unfair burden on their home country, owing to the distance and time needed for trucks to reach mainland Europe.

Fairer competition and fighting illegal practices

Vehicle tachographs will be used to register border-crossings in order to tackle fraud. To prevent systematic cabotage, there will be a cooling-off period of four days before more cabotage operations can be carried out within the same country with the same vehicle.

To fight the use of letterbox companies, road haulage businesses would need to be able to demonstrate that they are substantially active in the member state in which they are registered. The new rules will also require trucks to return to the company’s operational centre every eight weeks. Using light commercial vehicles of over 2.5 tonnes will also be subject to EU rules for transport operators, including equipping the vans with a tachograph.=

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