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On the 31 May 2017, the European Commission published its long-awaited European Mobility and Transport Package. Once passed, this legislation will result in important changes to the existing body of EU law regulating road transport. Amongst other things, the package aims to implement initiatives to:
- encourage smart road charging;
- reduce CO2 emissions, air pollution and congestion;
- make traffic safer;
- eliminate “letterbox” companies (companies set up with the aim of circumventing legal obligations);
- put in place clearer rules on driving and rest times;
- look at cabotage issues;
- address enforcement to tackle abusive practices and fraud;
- address the violation of workers’ rights; and
- cut some of the red-tape which businesses face.
Regarding rest times and driving, the Commission intends to facilitate drivers’ ability to spend more time at home. Driving times will not be extended nor will changes will be made to the number of rest periods required. Over a four week period the driver would be able to take up to 2 reduced rests in a row. Compensation for the reduced rests must be added to the next regular weekly rest. Employers will have to provide accommodation for drivers during the regular weekly rest during a long-distance transport operation as drivers will not be allowed to spend their regular weekly rest in the cabin of the truck.
As for cabotage, until now, EU rules allowed for 3 cabotage operations within 7 days of the international delivery. The Commission proposal looks at allowing unlimited cabotage operations within 5 days of the international delivery. The Commission says this will be easier to enforce and will also allow trucks to have less empty runs, thereby sparing fuel on unproductive business.
In order to contribute to the “professionalism” of the sector, vehicles under 3.5 tones are likely to be made subject to some EU transport rules. These allegedly will not overly burden smaller operators.
Other proposals are expected over the next 12 months, including proposals on post-2020 emissions standards for cars and vans as well as the first-ever emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles.
We think it unlikely that the new legislation will come into force before Great Britain leaves the European Union, however, many of the proposals contained in the Mobility and Transport Package will affect how goods move in and out of Europe from the UK on a practical level. It remains to be seen if the UK will agree to implement some or all of the Mobility and Transport Package into our domestic legislation as part of the deal relating to Great Britain’s exit from the European Union.
If you would like to discuss how this may affect your business, please contact a member of the regulatory team on 01254 828300.