The amendments to the social provisions for lorry and bus drivers have been among the most controversial dossiers at EU level since 2017. The vote held in the European Parliament´s Committee on Transport and Tourism on 10th January 2019, which failed to gain a majority regarding the draft reports on the application of the Directive on the posting of drivers as well as the driving times and rest period regulation, means that a finalisation of the drafts are now a long way away – for the benefit of the people affected.
By now, it has been more than eighteen months that the Commission presented the . In order to make transport on Europe’s roads fairer and more competitive, it presents substantial legislative changes. Highly relevant is thereby the Lex Specialis in respect of the Directive on the posting of drivers, which shall newly regulate when the Directive on the posting of professional drivers shall (not) be applied. Due to the fact that drivers currently have a right to be paid in the country in which they are working and because this would be - in the view of their employers and the Commission - too completed with regard to the transport industry, the Commission proposed this Lex Specialis. This proposal foresees to apply the Directive on the posting of drivers only after a driver has worked in another country for three days in case of cross-border journeys. And for driving times and rest periods too, longer calculation periods shall increase the flexibility for carriers.
Since then, this proposal has divided the European Parliament: Representatives of many Southern and Eastern European Member States do regard this relaxation as not being sufficient, as they hope that the opening of the market will bring opportunities for their companies. MEPs of Central Europe correctly do not see any necessity for escalating exemptions. Hence, this would through the gates wide open for nomadism on Europe’s roads and encourage wage and social dumping. In this case, those drivers from Eastern Europe, who had driven for weeks in Western Europe, would have only been entitled to be paid by their home and posting country respectively.
However, in case of the first , a report, which would have provided for a far-reaching exemption of road transport for the Directive on the posting of drivers, gained the majority with fatal consequences for the people affected. However, in case of the a month later, this position failed to gain a majority as did the one on driving times and rest periods as well as on national market access for foreign transport companies (so-called cabotage). All three dossiers were referred back to the Committee on Transport.
The Committee on Transport voted again on 10th January 2019. The votes were in respect of five different draft reports on the Lex Specialis Directive on the posting of drivers. But not one of them gained a majority. The narrowest result was in respect of a draft to be rated positive from an employee’s perspective, because it did not provide for any substantial exemptions. Nevertheless, it was rejected with 22 Yes to 24 No votes. The same happened to the report on driving times and rest periods. The only report to be adopted was the report on market access (cabotage) by rapporteur Ismail Ertug (S&D).
Whilst on 3rd December 2018, the Council reached on the dossier, which from an employee’s perspective contained both , the following procedures regarding the parliamentary bills are completely open. Hence, the two still open dossiers could be dealt with by the Committee on Transport or in the plenary to gain a majority for one report after all. However, in view of the hardened fronts, which are also evident in many factions, it is also possible that the dossiers will not be dealt with before the EU elections. A withdrawal of the bill by the Commission would subsequently be as conceivable as would be the newly elected Parliament dealing with this issue in the second half of 2019.
From the point of view of the people affected, it is regrettable that the worker-friendly draft report on the Lex Specialis Directive on the posting of drivers failed to gain majority by such a narrow margin. However, the non-result means that the status quo with regard to the application of the Directive on the posting of drivers as well as on driving times and rest periods will be retained and that the numerous attempts, under the guise of cutting red tape and increasing competitiveness, to make working conditions for drivers worse, could be averted for the time being.