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UPDATE: EU Mobility Package Proves Divisive for European Transport Industry

EU Mobility Package Update

There have been some new rules outlined regarding the EU Mobility Package, which will mainly cover the following three areas:

  • Local wages must be paid both for domestic haulage within one country and for cabotage - when a truck arrives with goods from abroad and accepts a transport job within that country.
  • Cabotage rules will also be tightened. After carrying out cabotage, the truck must stay within the country's borders for four days. After carrying out cabotage, the truck must stay within the country's borders for four days. Every eight weeks the truck must be driven back to the country where it was registered.
  • Foreign drivers face stricter rules for driving and resting times and must return to their home country every three weeks.

These new rules will be introduced in 2021 and will also cover Norway and Iceland.

The past few weeks have seen Europe wide protests from European drivers objecting to proposals put into place by the Mobility Package. Any day now the European Commission will sit down to discuss their final plans for when the new initiative will be passed.

The Mobility Package, which has been dubbed the ‘Macron Package’ due to the French President’s driving of certain aspects of the scheme, has left countries divided.

What exactly is the Mobility Package, you may ask? We’ve got everything you need to know.

What is the Mobility Package?

The Mobility Package is a three-part scheme headed by the European Commission, which features new initiatives to try and govern the ever-growing levels of commercial road transport across Eastern Europe.

It would mean the biggest change to EU road transport rules to date and looks at achieving a blanket policy across all countries concerned, intending to address a great number of issues which currently exist within the European Transport sectors.

The standardisation of rules, which were released between May 2017 - May 2018, aims to result in more consistent enforcement across all member states, improving issues including driver welfare, fair competition, equalising pay and creating a more unified Europe. However, such initiatives are said to be coming at a cost to many.

A full outline of the scheme’s initiatives can be found on the EU’s Europe on the Move website.

But why are some unhappy with the plans?

The most divisive part of the plans is the enforcement that all European drivers must return to their own country for their monthly rest period.

This doesn’t sound very impactful on the surface; however, it is not uncommon for Eastern European drivers to spend their rest periods away from their home countries for them to be able to receive the maximum level of jobs. Thus, the proposed restriction would possibly place an additional financial burden on thousands of drivers and transport countries across Europe.

In addition, further plans such as equalising wages for all drivers have been accused by Eastern Europe as an excuse for stamping out cheaper competition. The standardisation of wages across Europe means that wealthier countries will no longer have to fear the risk of losing work to drivers who will accept the same job at a cheaper rate.

Increasing the transport costs also has the risk of crippling certain country’s industries, especially those that do not use the Euro. Their costs of living are also far lower than that of many Western countries. In fact, the divisive measure has even gone as far to be dubbed ‘discriminatory’ by some Bulgarians.

For these reasons, thousands of drivers have taken to the streets of Strasbourg to protest.

Does the plan have any positives?

With Brexit on the horizon, stricter tolls and import/export initiatives will protect the interests of all of those who remain within the European Union, particularly if the UK leaves without a deal.

In addition, creating regulations for all drivers aims to stamp out a number of ongoing welfare issues, which have been dubbed by some Mobility Package supporters as ‘inhumane’. Many European drivers do not return home for months at a time and are worked far harder than their Western counterparts for lower wages.

It is not uncommon for Eastern European workers to be exploited for the reason that they will work harder for less, making them at risk of illness, physical harm, exhaustion and potentially causing road collisions.

What does the Mobility Package mean for the future of the Haulage Industry?

At the moment it is very difficult to tell exactly what the future of European haulage looks like. The council cannot reach a decision that can meet the agreement of all countries involved.

A number of parties have implored negotiations to be suspended until after the European Elections in late May, however, this looks unlikely due to the looming deadline of Brexit and the subsequent mounting pressure for Europe to reach an agreement before the 1st June.

Until then, keep your eyes peeled. We will keep you up to date with any updates on the progress of the Mobility Package.

14 January 2020

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