Ten months after the publication of the first Mobility Package “Europe on the Move”, the negotiations on the dossiers in the Committee on Transport and Tourism are entering into the decisive phase. The draft reports for the eight dossiers have been submitted and the deadline for tabling amendments has expired. Now, report and shadow rapporteurs are working on possible compromise amendments to find majority for the planned vote in May. However, with regard to social legislation, the positions are still far apart.
On March 18 and 19, 2018, the programme of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) included the first Mobility Package, which the Commission had presented in May last year. However, the discussions on the dossiers on social legislation were rather controversial.
MEPs tabled no fewer than 300 amendments on the Regulation on driving times and rest periods for professional drivers. Rapporteur Wim van de Kamp (EPP, Netherlands) grouped these proposed amendments in nine groups. He found relatively large consensus across the strongest factions for the proposal to reduce the application of the regulations on driving times and rest periods, to small vehicles weighing significantly less than 3.5 tons. Many MEPs are aware that small vehicles time and again bypass the strict regulations for HGVs over 3.5 t. However, there was no agreement whether the scope of the regulation will only be extended to cross-border transports or whether the regulation shall also apply to small vans that just operate domestically.
The range of opinions regarding driving times and rest periods in general is also wide. Whilst some MEPs want the existing rules to remain, others demand to relax them with regard to the last stretch; if drivers run the risk not to be allowed to drive on only a few kilometres away from their destination because the maximum driving time has been reached. According to some MEPs - above all liberal factions - the reference period should be extended from currently two to four weeks. With regard to spending the regular weekly resting period in the driver's cabin, the motion of the rapporteur to allow this on evidently secure car parks, seems to be a compromise with majority appeal. However, disagreement continues with regard of defining the term “home”, to which drivers should return at least once a month and who should bear the costs. From the point of view of the Chamber of Labour it is clear that, as it has been provided for in the Commission proposal, the cost have to be borne by employers.
Several MEPs also addressed the necessity to have different regulations for bus drivers and HGV drivers. They explained that drivers had to react flexibly to passenger wishes, which was not the case in goods transport. However, the discussion slightly ignored the fact that maximum driving times were first and foremost in place to ensure road transport safety.
There were also major differences concerning the proposed special regulations in road transport on the Posting of Workers Directive (“lex specialis”). The revision of the sector-independent Posting of Workers Directive is de facto complete; it determines that the current form of the Posting of Workers Directive will apply to road transport until the “lex specialis”, which applies to road transport comes into force.
The rapporteur of the TRAN Committee, Merja Kyllönen (GUE-NGL, Finland) showed the range of the various positions. Whilst some MEPs demand that the Posting of Workers Directive in international transport should apply from day one, others propose its application only from day sixteen. The different positions come from all factions, but also from MEPs of old and new Member States. Especially representatives of newer Member States would like long transition periods to retain a competitive advantage. From the point of view of the Chamber of Labour there is no question that in order to fight social dumping effectively, the Posting of Workers Directive has to be applied from day one; hence there is no requirement for a lex specialis.
Further key topics included the introduction of digital tachographs, which in the opinion of many MEPs should not only become mandatory in 2034, but as early as 2020. Apart from that, there should be clear regulations what documents have to be shown during border checks. During the discussion, the Commission pointed out that the European Labour Authority, which was proposed last week, could also make an important contribution, especially for the transport sector, to reduce wage and social dumping on Europe’s road. Apart from that, several Social Democrat MEPs demand a separate authority, which is focussed on road transport.
The discussion on the third decisive dossier within the scope of the Mobility Package, the one concerning market access and the proposed amendments on cabotage, were delayed due to the unexpected passing away of rapporteur Jens Nilssen (S&D, Sweden). Several MEPs used their statements to pay tribute to the experienced politician.