Brussels, 21 February 2013
Road transport: Commission refers Austria, Finland and Poland to the European Court of Justice for failing to apply EU working time rules to self-employed drivers
The European Commission has decided today to take Austria, Finland and Poland to the European Court of Justice for failing to apply EU working time rules to self-employed drivers (Directive 2002/15/EC). More than two years have passed since the Commission requested the authorities of all Member States to inform the Commission on the actions undertaken to ensure full compliance with the legislation in force. These three Member States still have not notified their national transposing measures giving full effect to the Directive.
The EU rules
The Working Time Directive (2002/15/EC) introduced minimum requirements in relation to the organisation of working time to enhance health and safety of persons performing mobile road transport activities, to improve road safety and to align conditions of competition. According to this Directive the average maximum weekly working time is 48 hours over 4 months (extendable to 6 months by collective agreements) and the absolute maximum weekly working time is 60 hours. The working time includes the driving time, which according to Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 is limited at a maximum of 56 hours a week and 90 hours in any two weeks).
The Directive is an important instrument for ensuring that professional drivers are protected against adverse effects to their health and safety caused by excessively long working hours, inadequate rest or disruptive working patterns.
Since March 2009, due to the rejection by the European Parliament of the Commission proposal to amend the current Directive by excluding permanently self-employed drivers from its scope, its unchanged provisions also fully cover them.
The reasons for action
In July 2010 the Commission sent letters to the Member States enquiring about the adopted national measures in order to implement the obligation to apply the working time rules to self-employed drivers.
Due to the lack of the requested notifications of transposition in September and October 2011 the Commission sent letters of formal notice to several Member States, including Austria, Finland and Poland.
These were followed by reasoned opinions that were sent in April 2012. Despite these proceedings, full transposition of the Directive is still pending in Austria, Finland and Poland. The Commission has therefore decided to continue with the infringement procedure and to refer these three countries to the European Court of Justice for having failed to take all the necessary measure to comply with EU law (article 258 TFEU - Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).
On the February infringement package decisions, see MEMO/13/122
On the general infringement procedure, see MEMO/12/12