The transport sector caught between support measures and missed reforms

As the war rages on in Ukraine, things get difficult for trucking and freight mobility in general, which follows a two-year pandemic and the “threat” of a complicated transition to all-electric mobility. For Italian trucking companies, however, a small breath of fresh air came with the allocation of 500 million euro to confirm the 28 percent tax credit. In fact, in a decree issued on May 17 in the Official Gazette, we read of the allocation of 497 million to be used as tax credit on diesel expenses made in the first quarter of 2022. The declared aim of all this is to provide support to trucking companies and to mitigate the extra costs generated by the current contingency. Specifically, the decree grants private companies a temporary reimbursement of excise taxes, an extraordinary contribution, in the form of tax credit, of 28 percent of the expenditure incurred in the first quarter of 2022 on fuel for vehicles with a mass greater than 7.5 tons of environmental class euro V and euro VI, net of VAT and proven through the relevant invoices. Such tax credit can be used only to offset fuel expenses and does not contribute to a company’s total income. In addition, the same tax credit can be added to other benefits having as their object the same costs, provided that this aggregation, also taking into account that such measures do not contribute in making up the company’s income, does not lead to the exceeding of the cost incurred. The incentives are applied in compliance with European regulations on state aid.

If, on the one hand, the haulage industry welcomes this support, there is still a major distance on another sensitive issue: oversized cargo. In fact, the expected new guidelines have been postponed to July 31. And this was certainly not welcomed. Luca Civolani, president of Tea (Trasportatori Eccezionali Associati), said that "the government's failure to act has paralyzed the entire world of oversized cargo transportation: today Italian transport companies are left alone, in the lurch, without a clear law." The criticism refers to the fact that the government had promised a National Table by April 30, but now this commitment has been moved by at least three months, much to the dismay of all those who work in this sector and do not have any reliable regulatory references. "Entrepreneurs are demanding answers," explains National Secretary Marcello Bano, "they cannot sustain salaries and investments in a climate of total uncertainty about the future, due to the complete lack of answers, the government must act now, the Technical Table cannot wait any longer, we need a serious and concrete project able to instil confidence”. That is, the association is convinced of the need to restore a measure of certainty, which is vital for an industry that produces vehicles for extreme transportation, for the companies that buy and use these vehicles and to all the stakeholders, just as it is necessary to have in-depth knowledge of international, European and national standards dedicated to road safety. Trucking is also struggling with a deeper crisis, an “old age” crisis, so to speak. Indeed, as things stand, many of trailers currently circulating are old and getting older, and strong measures are needed if a complete renewal is to be achieved. This was discussed at the convention "Trailer: guardiamoci le spalle," (trailers: look over your shoulder) organized as part of Transpotec. The event showed how the average age of the more than 400,000 trailers currently on the road in our country is more than 17 years: it would take as many as 29 years to renew the fleet. These are alarming numbers for traffic safety, especially considering that more than 81 percent of these vehicles is not equipped with Esp and more than 37 percent is without Abs.

The data released paint a picture in which both trucks and trailers seem to be suffering the same dynamics and predicaments. "If we talk about safety," commented Paolo Starace, president of the industrial vehicles section of Unrae, who was among the speakers at the round table, "the combination of the two elements, i.e., tractor and trailer or semi-trailer, is inescapable, and older vehicles that operate outside the rules must be taken off the market”. Another key issue certainly worth a mention relates to accessing the trucking profession and the proposed deregulations: this was referred to in the European Mobility Package. The regulatory text no longer grants member states the option of requiring additional requirements to access the profession. A choice that in Italy had been made by imposing vehicles with a total mass of no-less than 80 tons and Euro V class as a requirement to enter the profession. All this now no longer applies. As a result, the circular letter states, even with respect to companies that are already active, that "companies that have had access to the market with vehicles belonging to a certain Euro category can register and/or use vehicles of any other category." So new players can enter the game with Euro 0 trucks. A provision that is not really consistent with EU and national legislations and are a great cause of concern. Hence the attack: for the president of Conftrasporto-Confcommercio, Paolo Uggé, "the European Union would not be able to address these hot issues" on the table: "We have reached the point of no return, now we need realistic policies, or do we really want Italian logistics companies to shut down? Isn't it clear that if trucking companies stop, the entire economic system suffers?" Then the proposal: "We will start meeting with all Italian institutions operating in Brussels" Uggé continued, "so that they can understand the real needs of the Italian economic system, hoping that they will be able to understand and share our goals”.


Trucks: a map for the location of electric charging points

The goal is to help governments and infrastructure operators better target investments in favour of charging points for electric trucks. A map is being studied to define an adequate and efficient distribution of new electric heavy-duty charging points in Europe. This is the subject of the study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research Isi, commissioned by Acea - the European Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Martin Lundstedt, chairman of Acea's Commercial Vehicle Board and Ceo of the Volvo Group, explained that battery powered trucks will play a key role in the process of decarbonizing road freight transport. If enough charging stations are quickly installed throughout the EU, their market penetration will increase exponentially in the next few years. But at present there is an almost complete lack of charging stations fit for the specific needs of trucks. In all likelihood, truck operators switching to electric will maintain their driving behaviour: the purpose of the study is therefore to map exactly where and when drivers make their stops today.


Gender equality lands in freight transport

Companies, including private enterprises with more than 50 employees, are required to comply with the gender equality reporting requirement. Which will now feature significantly more in trucking since it affects all companies with more than 50 employees, both public and private. All of them are required to produce a report on the situation of male and female employees every two years. The report must be done electronically on the Labour Services portal and submitted by Sept. 30, 2022. Failure to submit will result in penalties; an inter-ministerial decree has defined the procedures for compiling the report. It should be noted that the report is mandatory for companies with more than 50 employees, while those employing up to 50 employees can do so on a voluntary basis. The report must be prepared exclusively in telematic mode through the new computer application available on the Labour Services portal, which has been operational since June 23. The report, for the 2020-2021 period, must be submitted by September 30, 2022; for subsequent years, however, April 30 of the year following the expiration of each biennium remains confirmed. Once the procedure has been completed, if no errors or inconsistencies have been detected, the application will issue a receipt certifying that the report has been prepared correctly.