BOOSTING THE ECONOMY
250 million Euros for the sector from the Stability Law
Although the main general economic indexes are finally picking up, with GDP expected to reach 1.5% for 2016, with a 1% inflation rate and a growing trade balance, some critical points in the system still need to be thoroughly addressed. Starting with political and financial instability, the looming shadow of international terrorism and strong changes in the weather pattern which have a strong impact on international logistics management and freight transport, both highly sensitive to these factors. The Stability Law, though, maintains a strong focus on the sector supporting the ongoing recovery.
In this regard, according to Cinzia Franchini, National president of CNA-FITA (National Union of Transport Companies), the path chosen by the various unions and associations adhering to Unatras (National Union of Freight Transport Associations) produced a series of unanimous requests to be submitted to the Government. “ Getting the desired results was certainly not easy – she says – both because the convocation by the Minister Del Rio came 85 days after his taking office and then major cuts, to the measures provided for in the Stability Law, were immediately proposed”.
250 million is the expected sum destined to the sector coming from excise duty reimbursements, only for Euro 3 vehicles and above, and standardized tax deductions on undocumented expenses, though with a few limitations. Moreover the measures provide for incentives for the development of intermodal transport hubs within the next three years and social security tax benefits for drivers used on international routes.
For this reason Amedeo Genedani, president of Unatras and Confartigianato Trasporti, highlights that standardized tax deductions on undocumented expenses, though useful, will adversely affect self-employed carriers who operate mainly within a specific municipal area. Another burning issue relates to excise duty reimbursements. A compromise was reached according to which, rather than reducing the tax by 15% across-the-board, reimbursements were limited only to Euro 3 vehicles and above, but what is not acceptable is a parallel reduction of funds to subsidize the purchase of new vehicles.
“In other words, if the measures are aimed at supporting and helping whoever uses ‘greener’ vehicles, allocating these reimbursements to them exclusively, why not help those transporters who want to invest in new and ‘greener’ vehicles too?” the transporters ask.
On the other hand, business networks must be considered fundamental, according to Claudio Villa, president of the Federtrasporti Group: “Those who expected news in terms of regulatory measures or incentives for this type of contract have the right to feel disappointed, nevertheless these types of associations are a strategic element in the development of the sector. Out of the three different procedures to set up a business network, consortia or business associations are particularly supported by Federtrasporti, much like network contracts”.
Sistri: the sector’s concerns
The Waste Management and Traceability System (Sistri) remains a great cause for concern for the whole transport sector. An issue that has been persisting for years “despite the failure”, and forces transport associations to “apply cumbersome procedures and bear heavy costs to comply with both the annual fees payments and testing requirements”.
All this while the Ministry is busy defining a new system with the aid of a new concessionaire. "This situation puts Italian companies in a competitive disadvantage compared to their European competitors - said Thomas Baumgartner, President of Anita - because in other EU countries waste traceability obligations are complied under Community law, through simple and functional multiple systems that are much more effective than ours. Therefore we stand to lose market share even in this sector".
"Not only the Sistri hasn’t brought any added value to businesses, but it has in fact, if anything, aggravated costs and operational management procedures. It is not possible to imagine a waste tracking system that focuses only on one stage, transport, and doing so with outdated tools installed exclusively on trucks - continues Baumgartner. What is necessary is to redefine an entirely different system of traceability from Sistri, one that will truly represents an added value for companies and meets the EU standards, ensuring that waste is properly disposed of, complying fully with environmental protection requirements, just as it is already happening in France, in Spain and in Germany".
What the road haulage sector is proposing is to monitor waste flows by digitizing the existing forms, such as transport documents, loading unloading registers in order to control waste production and management as well as the annual MUD declaration (declaration of waste production), used for waste monitoring and statistical purposes. In addition, in order to simplify the institutional framework, Anita believes that the National Registry of Environmental Professionals should act as a single point of reference for anyone desiring to operate in the waste transport and management sector throughout the country, including foreign operators.
Illegal Cabotage: the EU Commission fights back
The EU commission in a report to the EU Parliament underscores the need to improve statistics relating to monitoring the practice of illegal cabotage, consistently reported by the sector’s associations. Freight transport must be safeguarded from any form of unfair competition.
Despite the intervention of legislative bodies, the problem of illegal cabotage and effective monitoring, besides clearly establishing what are the burdens to be borne by the driver – in view of the joint newsletter by the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport of January 2015 and the 2016 Stability Law – cannot be properly dealt with without a European standard of business operating costs, a standard taxation system in different Member States and fleet renewal policies in order to avoid dumping practices between operators.
Just a few figures: in 2014, regulated cabotage, National haulage performer by foreign third party carriers, moved goods for approximately 30,4 billion tons-km, 1,8% of the total amount of goods carried by road carriers, 2,7% of the national freight and 0,8% of the total weight carried. Between 2010 and 2014, cabotage grew by 48% with an annual average of 8%. During the same period, the countries that have practiced cabotage the most were Lithuania (+109%), Czech Republic (+152%), Poland (+120%), Slovakia (+116%) and Romania (+109%), while Greece, Croatia and Latvia recorded an impressive growth in cross-trade haulage.
The countries that more than any other engage in cabotage practices are Poland, the Netherlands, Spain, Luxembourg and Germany, while Poland, the Netherlands and Germany top the charts in terms of tonnage. The growth of cabotage performed by Polish carriers was 120% between 2010 and 2014, with an annual average increase of 17%. The countries where cabotage takes place the most are Germany, France, Italy, United Kingdom and Sweden, while the ones that suffer less from this practice are Poland and Spain.