Cabinet supports transport companies, Borisov to talk to Merkel and Macron
The sector is set to protest on 16 and 17 May in Sofia and is prepared to block borders and plants
11 May, 2018
The government is standing in support of road haulage and passenger transport companies against planned European changes. The news came following a meeting between Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and Minister of Transport Ivaylo Moskovski and representatives of the industry's branch associations. However, the transport companies still intend to protest on 16 and 17 May in Sofia, during the European leaders' summit. Their plan is to drive their busses and lorries to the city centre; they are also prepared to block borders and foreign investors' plants in the country.
Following the meeting held at the Council of Ministers' headquarters on 8 May, it was revealed that PM Boyko Borisov will meet with President of France Emmanuel Macron, who endorses the changes, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to apprise them of the Bulgarian stance against the new European directive, announced Minister Moskovski. EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc has been invited by PM Borisov to meet with representatives of the sector in Sofia.
According to Moskovski, the Bulgarian position does not correspond with France's requirements regarding the Mobility Package, also known as the Macron Act. Bulgaria is categorically opposed to the mandatory return of drivers home every three weeks. The industry says that this measure will lead to their employees leaving and relocating to Germany or France. The new rules will ban truck drivers from sleeping in their cabins, reducing their options to hotels and motels, which not always provide parking lots with security. In addition, France insists that the posted workers regulations apply to drivers as well. According to Moskovski, the small and medium-sized companies will be burdened with “huge amount of red tape” in order to comply with the rules.
The Bulgarian transport minister reiterated his readiness to leave the council of EU transport ministers' session on the subject “in case he would be forced to preside over it”. France's representative left the last meeting on the topic in order to foil the negotiations, added Moskovski.
According to the industry's data, Bulgaria will be the country hardest hit by the changes promoted by Macron. Hristo Hristov, head of a large transport and shipping company, said that a considerable number of the 12,500 firms in Bulgaria will go bankrupt and move their operations to other countries. The road haulage and passenger transport companies call for support not only from the government but the trade unions as well, as they employ 200,000 drivers, while their business accounts for 15% of the country's GDP. France's goal is to make it attractive for Bulgarian drivers to work and live there instead of having to go home, stay in the company's main facility and go back to work the next day, commented Petko Angelov, also representative of the sector. The industry believes that the changes will lead to a new migrant wave, which will affect not only Bulgaria's transport businesses but also related sectors such as vehicle maintenance services and insurance.