Pushing Mobility Package I

Jeliazkov: It is unacceptable to create policies that cause great damage to the climate

Photo: EU Sanna Marin, Minister of Transport and Communications of Finland

Expectedly, on Tuesday the EP Committee on Transport and Tourism at its regular meeting gave the green light to launch a trilogue on the controversial Mobility Package I. A clear indication of this development was the rejection of the initiative of Bulgarian EPP MEP Andrey Novakov on a Rule 61 procedure, at an extraordinary sitting a week ago.

MEPs were asked: “Are you in the favour of asking the Commission to refer the three proposals on Mobility Package again to the Parliament?” Most of the TRAN committee members voted against.

This dossier, which managed to divide Europe into core and periphery, showed how the interests of small countries, but also bigger new Member States from Central and Eastern Europe, can be easily neglected by a factual majority, and that their arguments and claims can remain a voice in the wilderness.

Another issue is that the adoption of the three legislative texts, on the last working day of the previous parliament by en bloc vote, was considered by some lawmakers a serious violation of the parliamentary procedure.

Formally, this package is for the modernisation of road transport and strives to improve drivers' working conditions and in general to shield their social rights. In fact, there is a fear that the legislation will create huge administrative mess and will also deprive of incomes and normal existence more than 300,000 European families from the so-called peripheral countries, killing the businesses of tens of thousands of hauler companies and leaving hundreds of thousands of drivers without job.

MEPs, experts and haulers from the countries that will be most affected by the new rules voiced their concern that the legislation will distort the Single Market and is in a way discriminative to the peripheral countries.

“In no way does the proposed approach to the issue help to build a common market, on the contrary - it undermines it,” said Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Bulgarian Renew Europe MEP.

Now, nearly two and a half years after the executive tabled the proposals, the Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission can begin negotiations to finalise the three files. Mobility Package I consists of enforcement requirements and specific rules for posting drivers in the road transport sector; daily and weekly driving times, minimum breaks and rest periods, and positioning by means of tachographs and adapting to development in the road transport sector concerning cabotage.

It seems that this package will be a 'pebble in the shoe' for the Finnish Presidency as well, which is pursuing vigorously and ambitiously its priority: to find a common understanding that Europe will be climate neutral by 2050. Sanna Marin, Minister of Transport and Communications of Finland, set on the top of the agenda of the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council on September 20 a discussion on land transport, aviation and shipping, aiming to define measures to reduce emissions.

“It's about our children's future and they are demanding that we find the ways that climate change will be solved so this is our task today, as it comes,” Ms Marin urged. The debate continued three and a half hours, and was streamed live.

A few months ago, transport ministers from Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania joined forces to oppose Mobility Package I, forming an informal coalition of like-minded countries.

“It is unacceptable to think about how to reduce harmful emissions on the one hand and to create policies that cause great damage to the climate on the other,” said Rossen Jeliazkov, Bulgaria's transport minister, adding that his position is that the return of trucks in four weeks is absolutely unacceptable. “This is the most unfair, disproportionate and discriminatory element in the package that divides Central European and peripheral countries. I think we will gather the necessary support to drop this requirement,” he opined.

Rafal Weber, Poland's deputy minister of infrastructure, who took part at the meeting, said that Malta, Cyprus and Ireland are also countries that emphasise that from a climate perspective, the provisions of Mobility Package I are unfavourable.

For Andrey Novakov, the struggle continues, but he specified that it will not be easy. The main focus will be on dropping the requirement of trucks being brought back empty across Europe going to their country of establishment every fourth week and also eliminating the requirement for drivers to return to their country for rest.

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