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Brussels, 23 May 2007

Commercial road transport: The European Commission wants to ensure fair competition and an efficient and uniform system of checks

The European Commission today adopted three proposals aimed at modernising the rules governing admission to the occupation of road transport operator and access to the road transport market. The proposals provide for compulsory training for transport managers, an enforceable definition of cabotage which can be carried out within a Member State, and mechanisms for imposing sanctions across the national borders. The proposed regulations will reduce distortions of competition and improve transport operators' compliance with the provisions of social legislation and road safety rules. According to the impact assessment, the administrative costs borne by companies and the authorities could be reduced by as much as €190 million per annum.

According to Jacques Barrot, the Commission Vice-President in charge of transport, "to enable the internal market to operate properly, our rules need to be clear, they must be uniform and they must be applied by all transport operators in all Member States". He went on to say that "these proposals will help the road transport industry to improve its efficiency and modernise its image. High-quality road transport services and well-trained professionals will have a favourable impact on their own safety and that of other road users, improve social wellbeing and economic performance, and also contribute to a reduction in fuel consumption and Co2 emissions for the good of society as a whole".

The legislative package adopted today comprises three proposals for regulations[1], aimed at modernising, simplifying and streamlining the rules governing admission to the occupation and access to the market in the road haulage and passenger transport sector, and a report on the application of the Working Time Directive[2] to self-employed drivers. This package, which will now be examined by the European Parliament and the Council, proposes seven main changes to harmonise the application of the rules, improve the effectiveness of checks and ensure fair competition:

  1. Any company wishing to gain admission to the occupation of transport operator will in future have to employ a transport manager who can provide proof of professional competence (140 hours of training and an examination). If serious offences are committed under their responsibility, they will be disqualified and will no longer be able to work as a transport manager within the European Community for a period of two years.
  2. Transport operators must not have been convicted of serious offences, as defined uniformly throughout the EU. They must be able to provide proof of their financial standing on the basis of financial indicators relating to their short-term solvency or on the basis of bank guarantees.
  3. To ensure fair competition, companies must have an office and an operating centre, to eliminate the phenomenon of "letterbox companies".
  4. To put an end to legal uncertainty, cabotage (freight transport within a Member State by a haulier established in another Member State) will be authorised if it follows on from an international transport operation. Cabotage must be limited to no more than three operations to be carried out within seven days. This can easily be checked on the basis of consignment documents.
  5. The administrative procedures for authorising the creation of new regular coach services between Member States will be simplified. The model Community licence and model "driver attestation" will be standardised.
  6. The national licensing authorities will have to ensure more efficient monitoring by setting up interoperable electronic registers throughout the EU by the end of 2010. They must withdraw the licences of transport operators convicted of serious offences. To this end, any serious offences detected will be mutually recognised between Member States.
  7. Lastly, to ensure that drivers do not set themselves up as "false" (or bogus) self-employed drivers, they will no longer be able to call upon the services of a transport manager of a company for which they act as subcontractors. In addition, the Member States will be required to enforce the rules limiting working time strictly in order to make sure that they are not circumvented.

The report adopted at the same time as the three proposals for regulations concerns the application of the Working Time Directive to self-employed drivers. It calls upon the Member States to apply the directive forcefully to bogus self-employed drivers.[3] It draws attention to the drawbacks of an excessively wide extension of the directive to genuine self-employed drivers and confirms the need to amend the directive.

The Commission also adopted a report on the implementation of the directive on the roadworthiness testing of commercial vehicles.[4] According to the report, despite great efforts by some Member States, there is still a lack of uniformity with regard to checks within the EU. The Commission will refer the matter to the appropriate committee to examine (in conjunction with the Member States) how the situation can be improved.

The EU has 850 000 road transport operators. It is estimated that road haulage will increase by 55% between 2000 and 2020 and by twice that figure for international transport.

For more information, please consult the following website:

[1] The first replaces Directive 96/26/EC on admission to the occupation of road transport operator. The second merges and amends Regulations 881/92 and 3118/93 laying down the conditions governing access to the Community road haulage market. The third merges and amends Regulations 684/92 and 12/98 laying down the conditions governing access to the Community coach and bus transport market.

[2] Directive 2002/15/EC on the organisation of the working time of persons performing mobile road transport activities.

[3] "False" or bogus self-employed drivers are ones that are declared as being self-employed for social security purposes, but in actual fact work under the authority of a transport operator.

[4] Directive 2000/30/EC on the technical roadside inspection of the roadworthiness of commercial vehicles circulating in the Community.

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