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In 2013 the sector will again receive 400 million euros in contributions. The final decision by TAR of Lazio is awaited on the admissibility of including safety costs in goods transport contracts

Paolo Castiglia

THE FINANCIAL LAW has upheld the contributions for the road transport sector. This will allow road  hauliers to look at the future with a little more certainty, given that the 400 million euros in contributions are assured. But the sword of Damocles is still hanging over the sector with regard to the outcome of actions taken against minimum safety costs, about which TAR (the regional administrative tribunal) of Lazio has not made any pronouncement, but neither has it suspended them - for the moment. On this very sensitive subject, one of the sector’s major exponents, the former undersecretary and current chairman of Fai-Conftrasporto, Paolo Uggè, has made his position very clear. In his opinion “the safety costs still apply and must be applied because they derive from a law demanded by Parliament. TAR can, perhaps, object if the Observatory’s deliberations are compatible with the law or raise the question of doubtful compatibility with Community orientations and constitutional principles, but  it cannot annul a law approved by Parliament”. Uggè continued: “We know that there are many extrajudicial transactions that contractors preferred to implement in order to avoid sentences to the contrary. This has happened in the oil sector, in mass distribution and in cement. We are also aware that major contractors recognize safety costs and this is comforting.  Even though we are always willing to improve the regulations in force, we believe that we must be consistent with the position taken at individual level”. He concluded: “We continue to record the lack of any written suggestions from contractors with regard to the proposals presented by Undersecretary Improta to the parties.  On our part, we are willing to examine them, provided that the starting off point is a system that will guarantee observation of the social security and road traffic laws”.
It has to be said that Conftrasporto also wrote to the general command of the Financial Police (Guardia di Finanza) to find out about the extent of its verifications of the observance of minimum safety costs by contractors. At the same time, the Federation repeated its strong support of the relevant regulatory framework. It all began last summer, when the controller of minimum costs, the body responsible for monitoring firms, became the Guardia di Finanza. But since Parliament’s approval of the transfer came into force,  Conftrasporto would like to know how many verifications have been carried out? At what level? With what results?  Through its national secretary Pasquale Russo, Conftrasporto wrote to Guardia di Finanza general command to ask for an explanation and a meeting. Anita, the trade association that is a member of Confindustria and therefore plays a fundamental role in relationships with contractors, also intervened: “Although it is correct to allow the TAR judges to do their work, the costs for the safety of road transport firms are irrepressible and must be recognized, not only for the protection of the hauliers themselves, but also for the success of the entire transport operation and therefore also for the good of the contractor”. These are the worlds of Giuseppina Della Pepa, secretary general of Anita. Della Pepa also stated that while awaiting the final judgement on the issue of safety costs, the judges “have already indicated that their role is not to annul State laws, but to verify that they can be applied and identify any shortcomings”. This is why, Della Pepa continued “we have already said that we are completely available so that everybody takes a step back from extreme positions and we can work together on finding amendments that will enable the entire transport chain to operate in safety, but without prejudice to the principle that there are costs that hauliers cannot withdraw and must be recognized”.
There has also been important clarification about minimum costs, which excludes them from international transport and cabotage: “The minimum costs system is excluded from and cannot be applied to  international transport (even with regard to a “stage” in Italian territory)”. This very clear and explicit specification by the Ministry for Infrastructures and Transport dispels any remaining doubts regarding the application of minimum operating costs to international transport and cabotage. From a subjective point of view, it has been clarified that the receivers of “minimum costs” are third-party goods transport firms operating in Italy with headquarters or a subsidiary in Italy and registered with the national register of road hauliers transporting goods for third parties. From an objective viewpoint, it constitutes a  written or verbal contract for transporting goods on behalf of third parties (as defined in art. 6 of Legislative Decree 286/2005), by which the parties (contractor and haulier) agree to a fee for the goods transport service.
Another important subject mentioned at the beginning of this article is the 400 million euros for hauliers. In addition to confirming the allocation, also identified were the ways in which the funds allocated by the Government are to be divided for the current year. At a meeting at the Ministry for Transport with the road transport associations, the allocations were defined as follows: 150 million euros for tolls; 91 million euros for industrial injury (INAIL); 89 million euros for healthcare (SSN) and non-documentable expenses; 20 million euros for training; 50 million euros for investments.

• Okay for third-party firms to operate for themselves
Third-party hauliers can also transport goods on their own behalf: the confirmation, and the first application of the principle, came from the Register of Environmental Managers. The owner of a vehicle authorized to transport goods for third parties appealed against the decision by the regional section not to include the vehicle in the Register, pursuant to article 212, paragraph 8 of Leg. Dec. 152/06, because it was registered for third-party transport. The National Committee therefore agreed to harmonize its jurisprudence in accordance with sentence 13.725 of the Supreme Court, which established the principle by which it is not an infringement for a firm authorized for third-party transport to transport good also on its own behalf.

• Reports on transport firm legality
Ratings of firm legality will be coming into operation soon and we will have road transport firms with stars, more or less like hotels or restaurants. The Antitrust Authority has, in fact, issued a regulation that establishes the criteria and methods for attributing points. The regulation was favourably received by the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Justice. The firms operating in Italy that can request a rating must have had minimum revenues of two million euros for the financial year prior to the request and must be listed in the register of companies for at least two years. Interested firms should make their request online by using the form that will soon be published on the Authority’s website. Ratings will range from a minimum of one star to a maximum of three attributed by the Authority on the basis of the declarations made by firms. These will be verified be means of cross-referencing with the data held by the relevant public administrations. The Antirust Authority will publish on its website a list of the firms ratified and all the relevant data.

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