Mobility Package comes to a standstill
TRAN Committee MEPs reject proposed compromises on rest times and posting drivers
The so-called 'Mobility Package I' was brought to a standstill, as on Thursday, 10 January, the Transport Committee members of the European Parliament rejected the proposed compromises of the rapporteurs on rest times and posting drivers in the road transport sector. Alternative compromises tabled by other MEPs also failed to receive enough thumbs-up. TRAN MEPs backed only the revised rules for road haulage operations in another EU country, which is one of the three reports within the first part of the package.
In July last year, these three files were rejected in plenary and were sent back to the TRAN Committee for further consideration. Last December the Council agreed its position on a key reform of the road transport sector.
At a coordinators' meeting immediately following the vote, the parties have not reached an agreement how to proceed with the package and whether, if partly rejected by the committee, the proposed texts can be put on vote in plenary. According to TRAN chair, Karima Delli, this issue will be discussed again during the next coordinators' meeting on 21 January.
On the same day, from early morning hundreds of truck drivers and haulage company owners from Bulgaria, Romania and Poland protested in front of the European Parliament in Brussels against the planned reform that if agreed would push out of the market thousands of companies from these countries. Carriers expressed their outrage at the proposed measures, calling them protectionist and voiced their fear that such rules would be damaging to the basic principles of the single market, making the rift between the East and West in the EU even wider. About 95% of my trucks are new, made in Germany and France, said an owner of a Bulgarian haulage company.
Commenting the vote in the TRAN committee meeting, the Polish Transport Minister Andrzej Adamczyk said the meeting ended with a fiasco as no decisions were reached on the further procedure that applies to the Mobility Package. This confirms the still existing divide between the MEPs on the proposed solutions, he said, adding: “We cannot accept a situation that causes a negative impact on the operations of hauliers from Bulgaria, Poland, Lithuania, Hungary, and also on hauliers located in the peripheral countries of the EU.” We should endeavour to have normal conditions and rules that are beneficial for the economy, Minister Adamczyk asserted. He explained that with his colleagues, from Bulgaria - Rossen Jeliazkov, from Hungary - Robert Homolya, and from Lithuania - Rokas Masiulis, they started joined actions and already the previous day held joint meetings with Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc and afterwards with some MEPs. We will continue joint actions aiming at adopting good solutions, he stressed. With Minister Jeliazkov we always said that we must have good rules for the hauliers from all Member States, and not only for the hauliers that are selected by some countries, the Polish minister noted.
On his part, Minister Jeliazkov pointed out that rejection of the texts of the two reports at the TRAN Committee, out of three in the package, has created a legal precedent and uncertainty. He predicted that if the package is not submitted to plenary on 31 January, the vote on the dossier can be postponed for the next parliamentary term. In his words, over the past two years, this package not only did not gather approval, but clearly divided both the Council and the EP. He also opined that the protest of the hauliers “is not a form of pressure, but a demonstration of the firm and explicit message against the division of Europe into central and peripheral countries”.
The adopted rules, proposed by the German S&D MEP Ismail Ertug, foresee companies to be allowed to make deliveries within another EU country for three days after a cross-border delivery, to improve enforceability and help avoid “empty runs” of trucks. The legislation now in force allows for three operations within seven days. After this period, trucks will not be permitted to carry out new cabotage operations in the same country within two and a half days after they return to their country of establishment, as to prevent systemic cabotage. Also, vehicles have to load or unload once every four weeks in the Member State in which the company is registered.
Before the vote, MEP Ertug posed for a photo in front of the meeting room with a banner that read “Stop dumping” and “Fair transport for Europe”.