Post-covid protection agreements and calls for support from trade associations: "More safety, less dumping and a non-punitive eco-friendly turning point"
Demands from the associations
The scenario is far from ideal. The haulage sector feels the need for recognition of the role it has played in recent months and the support it gives to the economy and public safety
The scenario is far from ideal. The haulage sector feels the need for recognition of the role it has played in recent months and the support it gives to the economy and public safety. Let us start precisely from safety. The need to join forces to spread a culture of prevention mitigating the risks normally associated with the road in a sector that plays a strategic role for the country is, in fact, the main reason that led to the signing of a memorandum of understanding on safety signed by the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, Paola De Micheli, the President of the Inail, Franco Bettoni and the National Register of Hauliers.
With this three-year agreement, the National Register of Road Hauliers and INAIL join forces to help spread a culture of prevention among operators in the sector, making them aware that adopting the best technical and organisational practices can contribute to the development of the entire sector and the safeguarding of road safety and the environment. This joint initiative provides for a series of joint communication activities and training courses for road haulage operators on the risks associated with the exercise of the profession, on the best practices to be implemented to protect the health and safety of operators and on the prevention on the risk of contracting and spreading the Coronavirus.
"Our data," explained Inail President Bettoni himself, "show that accident prevention in the work place, if it is to be fully effective, must also deal with what happens outside the workplace. Inail has already promoted a number of measures to help mitigate the so-called "road risk", such as a discount on the insurance premium paid to companies that train their employees in proper driving behaviour or implement measures to improve road infrastructures near the workplace. The protocol signed with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport responds to the need to pool our knowledge and strengthen existing synergies with other institutional players". Half of all fatal cases linked with accidents at work have something to do with the road, as clearly shown by INAIL data. In terms of consequences, "road" accidents have a higher average severity, both in terms of the degree of permanent injuries suffered and the number of days of temporary disability recognised by the Institute. In the meantime, given the current crisis, here we are talking about trends in the sector. A large cross-section of the road haulage sector has decided to take a common position on a crucial aspect for the sector: in fact, all together, Assopetroli-Assoenergia, Assotir, Cna-Fita, Confartigianato Trasporto, Fai-Conftrasporto, Fiap and Unitai, have launched an appeal against possible fuel price hikes. The appeal is the result of a public consultation recently launched by the Minister of the Environment, Sergio Costa, on a number of legislative proposals, aimed at progressively removing a number of subsidies that, according to him, appear to be harmful to the environment.
Trade associations, on the other hand, have a different view: "Diesel has been “accused” of enjoying significant government subsidies and benefits - so to speak - from a lower excise duty compared to petrol (0.617 euro/litre, against 0.728 euro/litre) - they write in a letter addressed to the Government. Among the various regulatory proposals is the progressive realignment of excise duty rates on petrol and diesel fuel from 1 January 2021. The associations representing, respectively, the road haulage and logistics sectors as well as fuel companies denounce the imminent rise in diesel fuel prices, yet another increase in taxes, this time camouflaged with alleged environmental motivations, for which it is difficult to find any real basis". According to road haulage, logistics and fuel trade associations, "first of all, it should be made clear that the differential treatment between diesel and petrol is in no way to be considered as a subsidy. In fact, we are faced with two different rates of excise duty, just as the two products are different, both in terms of performance and environmental impact. Compared to petrol, diesel (thanks to the increasing efficiency of the engines) guarantees longer mileage with each litre and produces lower CO2 emissions".
The associations explained that the differential between the two rates, which is found in all EU member states (with the only exceptions of UK and Belgium), was originally designed to promote a gradual change of vehicles towards “cleaner” power units: "and Italians motorists oriented their choices accordingly: now the idea to “punish” those citizens who have done exactly what they were asked to do, seems absurd to say the least! And we are not just talking about private transport: it is worth remembering, in fact, that well over 95% of all transport vehicles (commercial and industrial vehicles) is powered by diesel. Increasing the excise duties would therefore translate into higher transport costs, with an inevitable increase in the prices of consumer goods".
Fuel taxes in Italy are already among the highest in the European Union, second only to the United Kingdom. Moreover, the current levels of excise duties on diesel is generating "sufficient revenue - explains the letter - to offset the negative effects of the use of this fuel, as shown by numerous studies on the subject. One case in point: according to our studies, road haulage companies pay much more than the pollution produced: a Euro6 truck generates an external cost of 13.1 cents, while it pays 40.3 cents of excise duty alone, equivalent to over a billion euro a year". "The green transition cannot be pursued by simply drawing indiscriminately from the pockets of citizens", the associations warns. In short: if the intention is to promote a reduction of the ecological footprint of fuels, we must offer tangible opportunities to improve the quality of the environment and the standard of living of people, we cannot choose a punitive path".