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European Commission - Press release
Road transport: Commission requests seven Member States to apply the Working Time Directive to self-employed drivers
Brussels, 26 April 2012 - The European Commission has issued reasoned opinions requesting Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Poland, Portugal and Spain to take appropriate measures to apply the Working Time Directive to self-employed drivers. If these Member States fail to inform the Commission within two months about the measures taken to ensure compliance with EU law in this respect, the Commission could refer the cases to the European Court of Justice.
The EU rules
Directive 2002/15/EC1 sets minimum social protection standards for mobile workers in road transport. It aims at improving the health and safety of mobile workers in the sector. At the same time it aims at ensuring fair competition by setting equal minimum conditions for all businesses active in road transport within the EU.
Whilst the directive foresees that self-employed drivers are excluded from the scope of the directive until 22 March 2009, after that date the respective rules fully apply to this category of drivers as well.
The reason for sending reasoned opinions
The seven Member States mentioned failed to communicate to the Commission – appropriate measures taken to transpose the Directive and apply the working time rules of the Directive to self-employed drivers.
The practical effect of non-implementation
Failure to comply with the obligations set out by the Working Time Directive would allow self-employed drivers in some Member States to ignore the Directive and in particular its weekly working time limits. This would result in a non-harmonised framework throughout the EU and distortion of competition against those Member States which have properly transposed the Directive.
The issue of whether or not the application of the rules to self-employed drivers is appropriate was extensively discussed between the Commission, Parliament and Council on the occasion of the expiry of the exemption for this category of drivers. Whilst the Commission saw some practical difficulties when it comes to enforce the rules on self- employed, the Parliament insisted that the exemption should not be continued.
More information on infringement procedures: MEMO/12/279
Directive 2002/15/EC on the organisation of the working time of persons performing mobile road transport activities , OJ L 80, 23.3.2002, p.35