The road transportation package of the European Commission – the so-called road package – will probably be unpacked and the individual elements distributed to various different points of the second annual work programme. The EU Commission will this year continue to deal with the elaboration of different initiatives on road transport. However, their originally planned aggregation to a so-called Road Package now does not seem to be an issue anymore. The package no longer appears in the second annual work programme of the EU Commission in the overviews of policy priorities. Instead, readers really have to deep dive into the text: It is thus that under the heading of “Energy Union” they will find passages on road user charges as well as a single European transport area. Under the heading of “Deeper Domestic Market” the removal of access barriers to the road transportation network is mentioned as well as the implementation of social legislation. Thus, these issues of the Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport are no longer prominently mentioned in the annual work programme, although all are nevertheless represented.About the Road Package: The Road Package includes not only social aspects like road pricing, market access issues, i.e. cabotage regulations or guidelines for the qualification and further training of drivers, as well as the envisaged set-up of a road agency for the implementation and enforcement of the rules (see report in DHL Freight Connections, issue 2, 2015).
Focus on social legislation
One of the pressing issues is the improvement of the social situation of truck drivers. According to Verkehrsrundschau magazine, the authorities punish nearly two million offences against social rules every year. On the one hand, this disregard of standards leads to a significant degradation of the attractiveness of being a professional driver. On the other hand, it encourages national measures. France and Belgium have already banned drivers from spending their leisure time in the truck. And the Federal Minister of transport is also considering an amendment to prevent drivers from spending their regular weekly rest periods in their trucks. The recipe of the Commission now envisages a two-stage approach to strengthen and update the existing legal framework for European freight transport by road:
- Clarification of the existing rules in order to create understanding and awareness, and to ensure a uniform implementation in the member states.
- If this enhancement of the existing rules and regulations does not have the desired effect, new rules are also possible.
The Commission’s objective is to ensure common practice in all states in order to avoid members going it alone in the future. Within the framework of an own-initiative report on the issue of social dumping, the EU Parliament will also deal with the social aspects and the respective implementation.