Saturday

24th Oct 2020

MEPs give green light to road transport sector reform

  • Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria alone would emit an additional 3.2m tonnes of CO2 per year under the new rules (Photo: David Basanta)

MEPs gave the green light on Thursday (9 July) to the Mobility Package covering truck drivers' working conditions - rejecting all amendments pushed from central and eastern member states.

After three years of negotiations, MEPs still had to endorse all three legal acts of the package - as adopted by EU ministers in April.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The new rules will force trucks to return to the company's operational centre every eight weeks, give drivers the right to return home at regular intervals and guarantee that their rest periods are outside their vehicle - with employers covering the cost of accommodation.

"The mobility package promotes fair competition between operators and improves road safety as well as drivers' working conditions," said MEP Henna Virkkunen from the European People's Party.

"The European single market cannot properly function without fair common rules which are uniformly controlled and enforced," she added.

However, more right-wing MEPs have described the new EU rules as being harmful to the single market.

"The mobility package is a clear example of economic protectionism," said MEP Kosma Zlotowski from the European Conservatives and Reformists, who claims that the new rules discriminate against transport companies from countries such as Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and the Baltic States.

Litigation threat?

Ahead of the vote in plenary, ministers of transport and foreign affairs from nine member states called on the EU parliament to reject the provisions related to the vehicle's return to the country of establishment.

The request of Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Cyprus, Latvia, Malta and Romania is based on "deep concern" about the road transport sector, which was severely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, plus on the EU single market and the Green Deal, they said in a letter sent to MEPs last week.

Lithuanian vice-minister for transport, Gytis Mazeika, described the signing off as "a point of no return on one hand and preparation for litigation on the other" since his country has expressed it's intent to bring the issue to the European Court of Justice.

Meanwhile, EU commissioner for transport Adina Vălean warned that some of the new rules might be not aligned with the Green Deal - referring to the compulsory return of the vehicle every eight weeks, and the restrictions imposed on combined transport operations.

The commission will now present by the end of the year a risk assessment on the impact of these two aspects on the environment and EU's single market.

According to the Lithuanian International Transport and Logistics Alliance, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria alone would emit an additional 3.2m tonnes of CO2 per year under the new rules.

"The commission, if necessary, will exercise its right to come forward with a targeted legislative proposal before the two provisions enter into force," said Vălean in a statement.

The adopted rules will enter into force 18 months after they are published in the EU's official journal.

Magazine

Tackling climate change through transport

Getting the mobility package done in the short-term, and helping to change modes of transportation in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, will be key priorities for the transport and tourism committee.

MEPs call for end to 'social dumping' in road sector

The European Parliament said that future EU rules should put an end to unfair competition in the transport sector. But Eastern European MEPs fear this would undermine the single market.

Polish court effectively bans legal abortions

The human rights commissioner of the Council of Europe said the ruling marked a "sad day for women's rights", adding that more women will seek abortions underground and abroad.

Visual Data

Coronavirus: Will a second wave divide Europe again?

Experts are now warning of the "very serious" surge in Covid-19 cases in Europe - where new weekly cases exceede those reported in March. The worst-hit countries are Spain and France - while Italy is resisting the much-feared second wave.

News in Brief

  1. UK scientists fear Brexit blow to joint EU research
  2. Greek migrant camp lockdown extended
  3. Lukashenko and 14 others in EU crosshairs
  4. EU imposes sanctions over 2015 Bundestag cyberattack
  5. Italy reignites Mont Blanc border dispute with France
  6. Commission to press Croatia on migrant 'abuse' at border
  7. Belarus opposition awarded 2020 Sakharov Prize
  8. Belgium's foreign minister in intensive care for Covid-19

Coronavirus

EU tries to avoid lockdowns as global death toll reaches 1m

Several member states are putting forward restrictive Covid-19-related measures to try to control the surge of numbers of coronavirus cases, trying to avoid a second lockdown. Meanwhile, the global death toll from the novel coronavirus has reached one million.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. South Caucasus death toll much worse than feared
  2. Polish court effectively bans legal abortions
  3. MEPs urge EU to be ready to dump disputed energy treaty
  4. EU commission on defensive over 'revolving doors'
  5. Why German presidency is wrong on rule of law
  6. Nato and EU silent on Turkey, despite Armenia's appeal
  7. EU tells UK to decide on Brexit as deal 'within reach'
  8. EU farming deal attacked by Green groups

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us