EU Parliament approves new “Mobility Package”
The two Regulations and the Directive that make up the “package” will transform road freight transport on the Continent
The new package will profoundly affect the management of drivers, tachographs, cabotage as well as the creation of “letterbox companies” abroad: in short, a revolution for European road haulage. International road haulage, which is a decisive factor for countries that are largely export-oriented, will in fact change profoundly in the coming months following the approval of a long-awaited reform: last July 8th, in fact, the European Parliament approved the two Regulations and the Directive that constitute the first "Mobility Package" which will reform important rules for the sector. The text voted by MEPs is the one that came out of the agreement with the European Council signed in December 2019.
Thus ends a long and winding path with several Eastern European countries putting up a stern resistance to changes to the current legislation, opposed by Western countries who supported the reform. The progressive entry into force of the new rules could significantly change international road haulage.
Among the changes mention earlier, a crucial one concerns drivers, i.e. posting of drivers and drivers’ rest times. Road haulage companies will have to organize trips so that drivers in international freight transport can return home at regular intervals - every three or four weeks depending on working hours. Throughout the EU, regular weekly rest in the cab will be outlawed and under certain conditions, the company will have to pay the driver's accommodation expenses.
Changes will not spare tachographs, which will have to record border crossings to facilitate roadside checks. Tachographs will be mandatory also for commercial vehicles with a total mass ranging from 2.5 to 3.5 tons travelling on international routes.
The Package also deals with trans-national posting of drivers to ensure equal pay throughout the EU.
New rules also for road cabotage. EU rules allowing for three cabotage operations within seven days of the international delivery remain unchanged. To avoid “systematic cabotage”, new rules introduce a four-day “cooling off” period before cabotage in the same country with the same vehicle. In order to stop the use of so-called letterbox companies by hauliers, which distort competition, and to improve employment conditions for drivers, the revised rules will require road haulage companies to have substantial activities, such as a headquarter with employees, vehicles and drivers in the EU countries in which they are registered. The rules will also introduce an obligation for the driver to return to the company’s operational centre every eight weeks. The rules on posting will apply eighteen months after the entry into force of the legal act. The rules on rest periods, including the return of drivers, will apply twenty days after the publication of the act. The rules on the return of vehicles and other amendments to the rules on market access shall apply eighteen months after the entry into force of the Act.
Still on international haulage, given that the Covid-19 emergency is still far from over throughout Europe, the Cemt secretariat has established a new extension of short term authorizations for international road haulage, i.e. those valid up to thirty days from the start of the journey in the country of registration of the vehicle.
A first extension of these authorizations had already been granted until June 30 and has now been extended until December 31, 2020. The Cemt Secretariat has also extended, again until 31 December 2020, the annual audit certificate whose validity expired after 12 March. These extensions were announced in Italy by a newsletter issued by the Ministry of Transport.
Coming to Italy, an important showcase for the sector was the participation of some associations at a General Meeting held by the Government, with a special mention for the President of Anfia, Paolo Scudieri, representing Italian manufacturers, which symbolized all the issues currently on the table.
Anfia had previously attacked the institutions for the lack of an industrial policy plan for the sector, lagging behind other European manufacturing countries, and the urgent need for measures to support the market and give added impetus to the challenging technological transition that started well before the Covid-19 emergency: "The integrated plan to support the those industrial supply chains that were most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic - explained Scuderi - is an opportunity not to be missed to relaunch the automotive sector, and place it, once again, among the protagonists of our economic system with the highest multiplier of both added value (3.2) and employment (3), above the European average". According to Anfia, it is also necessary to introduce measures aimed at supporting business investments and the renewal of the national fleet of commercial vehicles, i.e. facilitating the purchase of commercial vehicles with a GVW of up to 12 tons, favouring alternative fuels and the possible scrapping of old vehicles at the same time.
In turn, Franco Fenoglio, president of the Industrial Vehicles section of Unrae, said that "if doing business in Italy is hard enough, being a road haulier means facing daily difficulties arising from bureaucracy, high tax burden, uncompetitive fuel and labour costs and infrastructure deficiencies. All deriving from a now historical inefficiency of the country’s industrial framework, which still lacks any strategy on the national development of the sector. The ones who are suffering the most from this situation are SMEs which represent a national excellence, though less known". Market trends on trailers show that the 2008 crisis caused the sector to lose almost two thirds of its volume between 2007 and 2012.
Still according to Unrae spokesman, new registrations depend on the availability of incentives. The recent discontinuity resulting from the disbursement methods used so far have not facilitated investment strategies in the road haulage sector. In addition, from 2017 to 2019 the resources dedicated to trailers and semi-trailers have dropped from 19 million to 6 million euro".
Titolo: Now tailor-made solutions to relaunch the sector
Confartigianato Trasporti believes that road haulage deserves “more credit”, considering the strategic role played during the emergency. In the meantime, it considers positive the measures that have a direct impact on the productive fabric, but the sector, is significantly affected by a dramatic drop in demand. This is the opinion expressed by Sergio Lo Monte, national secretary of Confartigianato Trasporti, during a recent hearing at the Transport Commission of the Chamber of Deputies. "The sectorial interventions adopted on the subject are not complete as they do not concern the different operators homogeneously and almost completely neglect some categories, from freight transport to the mobility of tourists, favouring instead large public companies", explains the association. As far as road haulage is concerned, the increase of a further 20 million euro for the reductions of motorway tolls for 2019 journeys already available from the month of June was viewed as positive, but it should be noted that this measure alone cannot be sufficient to support a fundamental sector for the Italian economy. Road haulage companies had to deal with irregular payments by clients, higher management costs and the reduction in earnings due to a lack of balance between outbound and inbound journeys. "All issues - according to Confartigianato Trasporti – that call for specific measures in the “Rilancio” Law Decree aimed at helping artisans and small companies to stay in business, allowing them to have the necessary liquidity to cope with current management costs".