Friday, 3 August 2007

Europe Harmonizes Road Transport

The EU is currently hoping to introduce extensive regulations on
road transport. The European Commission recently adopted a road
transport package which supposedly aims to reduce distortion of
competition within the EU as well as enforce the compliance of
social legislation and road safety rules onto transport operators.
The Commission’s proposals also aim to harmonise the rules
governing access to the profession and access to the road transport

The legislative package contains three proposals for regulations:
the first (replacing Directive 96/26/EC) is on admitting staff as road
transport operators, the second (amending Regulations 881/92 and
3118/93) lays down the precise EU conditions governing access to
the Community road haulage market and the final one (amending
Regulations 684/92 and 12/98) state the governing conditions for
companies to gain access to the Community coach and bus
transport market.

The UK government seems generally content with the introduction
of the regulations:

• The House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee has been
analysing the Commission proposals.
• At the time, Minister of State, Department for Transport, Stephen
Ladyman said that the Commission proposals were generally
consistent with the government’s view.
• Although the government is not keen that companies may be
required to employ a transport manager who must attend a
compulsory 140 hours of training and an examination or with the
costs, particularly for small companies, it believes that apparently
the Commission’s proposed definition of road cabotage will create
greater clarity for the industry and will not create further
administrative burden for companies or enforcement authorities.
• With regards to the harmonisation of administrative procedures
for the development of European coach services between Member
States and a single Community licence “in principle the Government
welcomes such simplification”
• The Commission proposal will include local bus services which
cross international borders in its authorisation.
• The UK government believes that it “is reasonable to have a
standardised format of the certified copy of the Community
authorisation or licence.”
• By 2010, National licensing authorities would have to establish
interoperable electronic registers all over the EU. They would have
to withdraw the licences of transport operators convicted of serious
offences. Hence, it recognises that any serious offences identified
will be mutually recognised between Member States.
• While the Government has been in favour of a more broad
information exchange “if monitoring and enforcement are to be
improved on a Community wide basis” it believes that 2010 as a
target date to establish an interoperable electronic register all over
the EU may be too ambitious.
• UK drivers would no longer be able to call upon the services of a
transport manager of a company for which they work as subcontractors.
According to the Minister, this will have “implications
for UK companies which have an exclusive contract with self
employed drivers, with each having their own operator’s licence, but
with the company providing each with a vehicle (with company livery)
and a transport manager for professional competence purposes.”
• What has the government said of finance? Regarding the financial
implications of the Commission’s proposals “the Government
is generally satisfied with the Commission’s assessment that more
harmonised measures will lead to possible reductions in administrative
costs of €190 million per annum overall across Member
States in the longer term.”

It is likely that such proposals will add huge costs to road
transport companies. Neither is the European Scrutiny Committee
convinced that it is appropriate to prescribe rules on the degree of
seriousness of criminal offences which are to lead to a loss of ‘good
repute’ under a measure adopted under Article 71EC. Moreover
they have asked the Minister “if it is appropriate for the degree of
seriousness to be left to the Commission to determine by comitology
decision under the regulatory procedure.”

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