CABOTAGE: HEATED DEBATES ON NEW EU RULES
Industrial Associations and Unions on a “war path” against “creeping liberalization”
The target: to stem the tide of social dumping by East European hauliers changing the rules on cabotage, on International transport, on mandatory resting periods and, in general, aiming for increasingly streamlined bureaucratic procedures charged on drivers and companies, designed to promote a greater digitalization of all the necessary documentation. The EU commission, following two years of studies and meetings, has published a mobility package with eight legislative proposals addressed to the road transport sector.
Great attention was paid and serious doubts were raised by a number of Italian road transport associations as they closely followed the drafting of the texts published by the EU Commission. Though agreeing on actions aimed at opposing so-called "mailbox companies” (or ghost companies), or ensuring greater flexibility in the interpretation of driving time allowing the driver to reach an appropriate destination or even the use of a double driver, the industry is strongly opposed to any form of liberalization as far as cabotage practices are concerned.
Anita’s position on this is quite straightforward: "Eliminating the number of trips in road cabotage replacing them with a limit of 5 consecutive days in a host country, is a formula that winks an eye to a creeping liberalization that simply cannot be accepted – declared Thomas Baumgartner president of Anita (national association of transport and logistics companies) adding – we are not against the idea a priori, as long as equal conditions, in terms of costs, are respected, otherwise, seeing the current gap, this form of liberal cabotage would only benefit East European carriers at the expense of local hauliers”.
It must be said that cabotage rules currently set a maximum of 3 journeys within 7 days, and yet, to reduce un-laden journeys complying, at the same time, with the nature of the legislative measure, it would be enough to perform one cabotage journey following an international trip. Anita, along with eight other European road haulage associations, signed a document confirming a clear stance against the changes proposed by the Commission, following the path outlined by the Transport Ministers signatories of the “Road Alliance” on cabotage.
In this regard, the Association has already discussed with the European Transport Commissioners the possibility to modify this proposal, which is considered unjustified and aimed at promoting unfair competition rather than thwart it.
However, not only the drivers are strongly opposed to these measures: following the the European Commission’s proposals for amending certain rules on road transport, the European Confederation of Transport Unions ETF issued a note confirming its strong position against the application of certain measures . The text, illustrated by the Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc, has in fact ignited the trade union protest.
"Based on what the EU Commission announced," says a note, "ETF believes that the Mobility Package is a mix of proposals that exonerate transport operators from all responsibilities, failing, at the same time, to respond adequately to work related issues in this critical area" - explains the text.
First of all, ETF "is opposed on exempting from transnational posting regulations those drivers traveling for the first three days on foreign roads: this temporary exclusion will not make the rules clearer, simpler to apply, and more stringent. This will only serve to delay for three days the application of a minimum wage to drivers traveling in a foreign country, leaving the door open to abuses, distortions and unfair competition based on different labour costs".
With regards to cabotage, the ETF believes it pointless to change the rules without introducing tighter enforcement measures: the problem with the current cabotage rules is the so called ‘chain’ cabotage, or the practice whereby hauliers engage in repetitive international journeys, to then qualify for as many cabotage ‘slots’ as possible”, the Confederation points out. “And this is precisely the problem that the European Commission should have dealt with, but failed to do so”.
In addition, the ETF recalls that two years ago, Commissioner Bulc gave guarantees that illegal cabotage will be included in the list of serious infringements leading to the loss of good repute. One more broken promise?”
With regard to the proposed changes to driving and rest time, the ETF will come up with a statement soon after the latest European Commission texts are made available on its website – so far the Commission has only issued a summary. With the elements available so far, “not only does this set of proposals prove socially unfair, but this package also legalises practices connected to exploitation of cheap labour, shifting key responsibilities from road transport operators to the drivers”. According to the ETF, the European Commission has broken its promises to fight social dumping.
Industrial vehicles: new registrations growth fueling the economic recovery
"We are witnessing a positive trend that, during the first quarter of 2017, went way beyond our most optimistic forecasts, demonstrating how the initiatives promoted first, and renewed afterward, by the Parliament and the Government have triggered a virtuous process in the market, allowing a major renewal of the vehicles currently circulating, the upgrading of which is now indispensable if the Italian transport sector as a whole aims to cope with foreign competition and respond to the growing demand for environmental and economic sustainability". These, in short, were the words used by Franco Fenoglio, chairman of UNRAE’s Industrial Vehicles Section, which illustrate how the March increase in new registrations, "in addition to the contribution made by the Super Amortization and the Sabatini Law, may have been influenced also by the April 15 deadline for the applications for eligible investments, in accordance with the Decree issued last year in July. We feel the need for the investment funds in the sector to be directed - respecting technological neutrality - to an effective improvement of environmental conditions, in the amount that pollution can be charged to industrial vehicles. The fleet renewal in 2016, involved, for 99% of the total, Euro 6 diesel fuelled vehicles and only 1% were vehicles with alternative engines". Based on registration data provided by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, UNRAE’s Centre for Studies and Statistics estimated a 36.2% increase, in the number of industrial vehicles with total ground mass above 3.5 tons in March 2017, compared to the same month of 2016 (2,455 registered units against 1,803). During the first quarter of 2017, the increase over the same period of 2016 rose to 23.7%, with 6,105 vehicles registered against 4,934. For vehicles with a total ground mass equal to or greater than 16 tonnes, the figures for March 2017 show an increase of 46.7% (2,030 vehicles) over the same month in 2016 (1,384 vehicles). During the January-March 2017 period, the increase was + 26.7% over the same period of 2016 (4,985 against 3,934).
Confetra: no to double taxation on waste management
No to double taxation imposed on third-party waste management and logistics. The Confederation of Transport (Confetra), through the note of its President Nereo Marcucci, has taken the stand against a provision aimed at imposing on companies producing industrial waste the same charges provided for urban waste.
In any case, Marcucci explains, it is almost always the local municipal company that takes care of both: "In short I pay for two and get one!", says the chairman of Confetra who continues "despite the involvement of the Ministry of Economy, the Antitrust and recently also of the Tar (Regional Administrative Court), the Ministry of Environment is yet to put some constraints to the municipalities on the possibility of considering any waste as urban waste. Thus, Municipalities include among the taxes liable to be paid also those that should not be considered urban waste, the disposal of which is managed by the producers themselves, as in the case of packaging material used by logistic companies which - by the 26th of June - are called upon to pay significant amounts".
Confetra has therefore, once again, urged the Undersecretary of the Environment Silvia Velo, "to produce a definitive classification of the waste according to a norm issued back in 2013, and in the meantime issue a circular letter stating that nothing is due when the disposal service is not performed".