The ongoing search for a compromise regarding the Mobility Package has almost come to an end. After at the end of last year, the representatives of EU Parliament, Council and der Commission had agreed a joint text in trilogue, the EU Parliament’s Transport Committee has now confirmed the result with a relatively slim majority.
Usually, confirmations of trilogue negotiations are just routine: after, within the trilogue, representatives of the Presidency, the rapporteurs of the EU Parliament as well as of the competent Directorate-General of the Commission have agreed a compromise text, its confirmation in the competent committee of the EU Parliament as well as the Council sessions, is regarded as a mere formality. However, this did not apply in case of the three dossiers on the Mobility Package, which are extremely controversial.
The Regulation on the application of the Posting of Workers Directive in the road transport sector, on driving times and rest periods as well as on the regulations on cabotage - these three dossiers combined form the Mobility Package - comprises key documents, which essentially regulate the working conditions of professional drivers on Europe’s roads and would thereby be able to prevent wage and social dumping. However, from the AK’s point of view, the compromise found is ambivalent, as it provides for, among other, that drivers might be on the road for several days in countries with a high price level, but that they are only entitled to the lower wage of the posting country. The right of drivers to return home after three weeks, has also not been implemented clearly as hoped. On the other hand there are the interests in particular of Eastern European countries, which want to comply with as few requirements as possible to enable them to benefit even more from their competitive advantage for journeys across Europe.
Thus, it was not clear in the run-up to the vote in the Transport Committee whether the compromise would achieve the required majority. This was confirmed by the result: of the 49 MEPs eligible to vote, 27 voted in favour of the special regulations concerning the Posting of Workers Directive, 22 voted against. Most of those voting against the compromise were MEPs from the new Member States within the European People’s Party, the Social Democrats as well as Conservatives and Reformers. Also unanimously against voted the Green group. Regarding the second vote on driving times and rest periods, again 27 voted in favour, 17 against, whereby the five Green MEPs abstained. The third and last vote on cabotage with 32 Yes votes and 17 No votes was comparatively clear as the Greens unanimously voted in favour of the proposal.
The Chamber of Labour had defined red lines to ensure that the Mobility Package would indeed improve drivers’ working conditions. However, these were only partially adhered to. In particular concerning the pay of driving personnel, substantial differences exist between Western and Eastern Europe, because of which journeys can be offered at a significantly lower price if they do not have to be paid in accordance with Austrian or German regulations. A current study of the Chamber of Labour “Social dumping in road transport” impressively shows that driver cost are more than double in comparison to Slovenian or Hungarian drivers, if German or Austrian drivers are employed. Taking vehicle and toll costs into account, Eastern European companies are able to carry out goods transports for up to 22 % less.
Probably for the last time in May 2020, the dossiers will be on the agenda of the EU Parliament. This will be the last opportunity to achieve any amendments, which in turn would have to be renegotiated with Council and Commission. However, in view of the current voting result, a majority for amendments is rather unlikely. The predominant part of MEPs in the Transport Committee, who voted against the package, would like to see an even greater relaxation of the existing regulations, instead of providing drivers with more protection against wage and social dumping.