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Government and trade associations set to resume talks



A special focus on road haulage from the Government seems to meet the demands made by the industry associations in recent months. This is the scenario that best describes the prospects of the road transport sector as 2018 draws to an end. 

Paolo Castiglia

A special focus on road haulage from the Government seems to meet the demands made by the industry associations in recent months. This is the scenario that best describes the prospects of the road transport sector as 2018 draws to an end. Take for example, the issue of flat-rate deductions, the cause of dissatisfaction and threats of strike in previous months, which seems destined to have a positive outcome for the Italian road transport industry.

The Minister of Transport and Infrastructure - Danilo Toninelli - has announced, prior to the issuing of the tax decree currently object of parliamentary debate, the allocation of 26.4 million euro to increase the share of flat-rate deductions of undocumented expenses for trips outside the Municipality, previously reduced from 51 to 38 euro and now ready to exceed 40 euro again.

A further subject, but of equal importance, on which Minister Toninelli is currently engaged is the reduction of excise duties, but this will require some time still. As usual, the vote in Parliament on the new Budget Law will have to be followed closely. The text under examination provides incentives for scrapping old vehicles in an effort to upgrade transport fleets, as well as measures aimed at refinancing investments in favour of both intermodal transport and reduction of motorway tolls for road hauliers. Measures that, in the event of insufficient resources, will be postponed but certainly applied, according to rumours, in 2019.

It must be said that the Ministry's commitment focuses not only on taxation and financial matters, since several working groups have been created with the aim of dealing with extremely complex and delicate issues, such as, for example, international cabotage, as well as measures relating to abnormal loads, an especially crucial issue as this must take into account our national road network as well as road safety.

Meanwhile, we cannot help but notice the satisfaction, at least at this stage, of all road haulage associations on the decision to include in the Tax Decree an increase in flat-rate deductions on undocumented expenses.

"The decision to replenish the funds for undocumented expenses, in accordance with agreements signed with Unatras last July, certainly goes in the right direction," said Paolo Uggè, vice-president of Confcommercio and president of Conftrasporto, who defines "the intentions communicated through press agencies on the issues of road transport, appreciable and well oriented".

The associations of truck drivers too, found significantly positive the declarations about the proposed excise duty reimbursements, scrapping schemes for fleet renewal, new measures for intermodal transport and toll fees reductions.

Obviously disappointing, on the other hand, were the concerns expressed by Minister Toninelli on the risk that resources, in the light of the actions included in the budget law, might compel the Government to defer some of the measures to 2019: according to Conftrasporto "such postponement would be far from ideal, as it would interrupt a virtuous cycle, worsening the competitiveness of domestic operators".

The criteria on excise duty reduction which would make resources available is, according to transport associations, that of sustainability. In short, the principle "the ones who pollute the most must pay" should apply.

And on the subject of pollution and emissions, a new rule was introduced on November 14, reducing CO2 emissions from industrial vehicles by 35% by 2030, and was approved by the European Parliament.

With 373 votes in favour, 285 against and 16 abstentions, MEPs adopted a rule requiring the registration of commercial vehicles with 35% lower CO2 emissions than at present by 2030, with an intermediate stage of 20% by 2020.

In addition, vehicle manufacturers will have to ensure that by 2025, 5% of all commercial vehicles sold will produce at least 50% less CO2 emissions than at present, a threshold that will further rise by 20% by 2030. In addition, the European Parliament entrusted the European Commission with putting in place new procedures to verify the level of emissions under real driving conditions by 2020. The standard approved by the European Parliament is far more restrictive than the one proposed by the European Commission itself, which called for a 30% cut by 2030.

In a note, the European Parliament explained that "Members recognise that a socially acceptable and balanced transition to zero-emission mobility requires changes throughout the automotive supply chain, with possible negative social impacts. The EU should therefore help workers in the sector to learn new skills and find new jobs, particularly in those regions and communities that will most likely be affected by this transition”.

For the first time the European Union has regulated CO2 emissions on heavy duty vehicles, because the limits imposed so far, including Euro 6 vehicles, concern nitrogen oxides and particulates. The designated rapporteur for the standard, Bas Eickhout, states that "we have agreed to raise the bar compared to what the Commission is proposing, which is possible thanks to existing technologies. We also need to prepare for new technologies, which is why we are proposing this low-and-zero-emission mandate to push the market towards new technologies. The next step involves talks between the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers to write the final text.

After the vote, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association – Acea - issued a statement considering such a reduction "extremely aggressive". The association believes that the 2025 target already represents a huge technological challenge for designers. Furthermore, rather than imposing market shares for zero or low-emission vehicles, Acea is more likely to be keen on supporting a system of incentives aimed at encouraging hauliers to purchase these vehicles, rather than penalising those who fail to achieve the target.

"The European Parliament seems to ignore the fact that the electrification potential on industrial vehicles is much lower than on passenger cars," said Acea Secretary General Erik Jonnaert. Now the association hopes there will be a "more balanced approach" by the ministers of each individual country.




The Traffic Police processed data on accidents involving industrial vehicles with a total mass exceeding 7.5 tonnes in the first half of 2018 on motorways, tunnels, ring roads and motorway junctions. These figures were then brought before the Road Safety Commission. Distraction is clearly at the top of the list. This survey only took into account accidents that caused injuries or deaths. From January to June 2018, 732 such accidents were recorded out of a total of 4730 reported by the Police department, that is 15% of the accidents, causing 46 deaths and 1091 injuries. In 298 accidents, equal to 47% of those in which at least one industrial vehicle was involved and whose circumstances could be investigated, police officers did not find any responsibility on the part of the truck driver, while in 336 there is at least one co-responsibility of the truck driver. If the latter is the case, what are the most frequent causes? At the top of the list, with 23.3% of the events, distraction behind the wheel was the main culprit, followed at a distance (13.6%) by failure to respect safety distance and speeding (6.1%). Among other causes the police recorded inefficiency of the vehicle (1.6%) and psycho-physical awareness, such as after the consumption of alcohol or drugs, drivers falling asleep suddenly or sudden illness (0.9%).

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