The publication of a package of legislative proposals on road transport by the European Commission has been received with mixed feelings by the Freight Transport Association (FTA).
According to FTA, the largest membership association representing the UK logistics industry, while the range of measures announced contains welcome elements that will cut red tape for international freight operators, it also contains a worrying attempt to increase regulation for the vans sector. FTA is particularly concerned that implementing these controls will divert the Driver Vehicle and Standards Agency (DVSA)’s staff away from the vital task of policing dangerous, badly maintained or overloaded vehicles.
“We recognise the political pressure the European Commission was facing from some member states to amend regulations covering freight vehicles,” says James Firth, FTA’s Head of Licensing Policy, “but the addition of new restrictions on van operators is an unnecessary imposition, the implementation of which will hinder business growth and bring no meaningful benefit to road safety. In turn, this will take the focus of the DVSA away from enforcing existing road safety laws against operators with dangerous, badly maintained and overloaded vans. Instead, the DVSA and government should be concentrating on encouraging increased professionalism in this fast-growing sector by cracking down on unroadworthy competitors, without creating unnecessary burden for those operating within the law.”
More than four million vans are used on the UK’s roads every day, with operators using their vehicles to travel a record 48.5 billion miles across the country in 2017.
The new legislation package also contains a number of measures which UK logistics operators have been lobbying on for some time. “We welcome proposals to reduce the ever-increasing administrative burden that our international members have been facing when operating abroad, as a result of the so-called ‘minimum wage rules’, that have multiplied across Europe in the past months,” said Pauline Bastidon, Head of European Policy at FTA. “The emergence of these national requirements has jeopardised the integrity of the single market, and created unnecessary costs and red tape for operators. In recent months, FTA has been relentless in asking the European Commission and national authorities to cut red tape for our members, so these proposed simplifications are most welcome. We also welcome the Commission’s efforts to bring greater inter-operability to road charging tools, which should remove the need for multiple boxes in the cab and cut costs for international operators, as well as the proposal to introduce incentives for users of cleaner vehicles”.
“However, we also have serious concerns with crucial aspects of the package, such as the unnecessary imposition of bureaucratic rules for vans, or the move to ban drivers from taking their weekly rest in the cab. We will continue to work with all European institutions involved to ensure our concerns are addressed as a matter of urgency.”
While the proposed legislation would be unlikely to come into force before Brexit, many of the proposals contained in the EU’s “Mobility Package” will affect the practicalities of how goods will move into and out of Europe from the UK. It may be that, in the process of negotiating an effective, frictionless trade deal, the UK government agrees to implement some or all of the proposals in the Mobility Package as part of maintaining parity with EU standards and this is an area which FTA will continue to monitor closely on behalf of its members.
“FTA is advising its members to plan ahead, as the Package – once finally agreed – could well be implemented in full in domestic legislation,” concluded James Firth. “FTA will continue to represent its members views vigorously for the duration of the negotiations through its permanent presence in Brussels.”
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