Europe needs a fair #MobilityPackage

Decent work for professional drivers. Safety for all road users.

On 4 April 2019, the European Parliament adopted its position, in plenary, on the Mobility Package. This pushes the Package into a new stage of its existence: the EU parliament and the Council – ministers of transport of the 28 Member States – will start negotiating on a final deal in October.

The ETF wants negotiations to be fast and the outcome a life-changer for professional drivers and the EU citizens. Every decision made from now on by the two EU Institutions will have the power to tip the balance in favour or against more safety on the EU roads, and better conditions for the millions of women and men transport workers driving buses, coaches and trucks across Europe.

What do we favour most in this negotiation process? The driver’s regular return to his or her home  country, the total ban on the weekly rest in the vehicle, keeping the driving and rest time rules unchanged and the extension of driving time limits to vans. If these measures are part of the final deal, truck drivers who currently spend months living and working in their vehicles will have a family and a social life, and at least once every 12 days they will be able to spend a week-end out of the vehicles they have been bound to. And the time spent driving vans will also be registered by tachographs and thus limited to 9 or 10 hours daily – a clear step ahead towards safer roads and better rested drivers.

We also hope to see the adoption of the mandatory return of the vehicle to the country of company establishment. This will put an end to the letter-box companies, a business model responsible for massive exploitation of drivers and unfair competition between road operators in the past years.

In respect of cabotage, we hope that a new deal on the Mobility Package will lay down fairer and more enforceable conditions for the transport of goods, between non-resident and resident transport operators. This would entail that, for instance, Spanish carriers operating within French borders would do that for a limited period of time and, most importantly, would pay their drivers French wages for the entire time the latter spend working on the French territory.

Which leads us to one of the most sensitive parts of the future deal: the posting of workers. The current rules are ideal: drivers are posted starting with the first loading or unloading operation outside of the country they usually work in. But means to control and enforce the application of this rule are scarce. We hope the outcome of the negotiations, although most probably containing a couple of exemptions from posting rules, will be much better enforced as it come with the early introduction of the so called “smart” tachograph – about ten years ahead of the dead-line provided by the current EU tachograph regulation. Indeed the new generation of tachographs will automatically register the exact position of the driver and the vehicle every three hours of cumulated driving time!

There are unbeatable advantages in all these proposals that the European Parliament and the Transport Ministers will discuss in the next months. But politicians will once again have to make choices. The ETF plans new campaigns – including a massive information campaign via all channels including social media – to ensure that 2.5 million drivers and the trade unions representing them follow closely the negotiations that may improve or worsen their lives and work.

We’ll keep a close eye on Brussels, to be sure!

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