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Brussels, 17th October 2007

Road transport – enforcing social rules: Commission sends reasoned opinions to 8 Member States

The European Commission has decided today to send reasoned opinions – the last step before a formal complaint to the Court of Justice is lodged – to Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and the United Kingdom for failure to notify their national measures transposing Directive 2006/22/EC. The Directive sets out minimum conditions for implementing new rules in the road transport sector on driving times and rest periods[1] and on the introduction of the digital tachograph[2]. By failing to implement this important Directive, the Member States concerned lack the necessary legal tools to promote fair competition within the sector and improve road safety.

"The effective and rapid transposition of this important harmonisation package on driving times and rest periods for drivers is essential for the proper functioning of the internal market, but also for social rules and for road safety. In a very competitive market like road transport we can not accept variations in implementation on the part of the Member States" said Vice-President of the Commission responsible for transport, Jacques Barrot.

The Directive, which should have been transposed into national law by 1 April 2007, was adopted by the Council and the European Parliament together with the new social rules for professional drivers (on driving times and rest periods) in the so-called ‘road transport social package’. Its purpose is to ensure a correct and uniform implementation of the social rules. Adequate enforcement, long considered a weak point, is particularly important in a sector that is characterised by low profit margins, fierce competition and strong market pressure.

The Directive sets out clear rules for checking hours worked by professional drivers (with a gradual trebling of checks from the current 1% of all days worked to 3% in 2010 and with a minimum of six concerted checking operations between Member States). It promotes mechanisms of cooperation between Member States authorities in charge of road transport enforcement (appointment of an intercommunity liaison body, joint training programmes, provision of standard equipment for control), requires that Member States establish an electronic system for the exchange of information and introduces risk rating systems.

[1] As set out in Regulation (EC) 561/2006.

[2] Regulation (EEC) 3821/85.

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