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Europe on the Move: Questions & Answers

01 June 2017
by eub2 -- last modified 01 June 2017

The European Commission's new 'mobility package' is an initiative to modernise European mobility and transport. The aim is to help the sector to remain competitive in a socially fair transition towards clean energy and digitalisation.


1. Overview & expected benefits

Why is the Commission proposing these new initiatives?

The European transport system is undergoing major changes. We are shifting to a more integrated and multimodal mobility system, which requires a more comprehensive and cross-cutting approach, embracing a wide range of policy areas at EU level. With today's initiatives, the Commission aims to shape the road and mobility systems of the future, boost its competitiveness, strengthen its social fairness and firmly put in on the path towards zero emissions.

What is the Commission today proposing?

"Europe on the Move" consists of:

  • A political Communication outlining a long-term plan to deliver clean, socially fair, competitive mobility to all Europeans.
  • A first set of 8 legislative initiatives with a special focus on road transport. These proposals aim notably at improving the functioning of the road haulage market; enhancing the employment and social conditions of workers; and promoting smart road-charging in Europe.
  • A number of non-legislative accompanying documents, presenting a wide range of EU policy support measures designed to accelerate the shift to a sustainable, digital and integrated mobility system (investment financing for infrastructure, research and innovation, collaborative platforms, etc.)

The full list is available here. It will be complemented over the next 12 months by other proposals, including on post-2020 emissions standards for cars and vans as well as the first-ever emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles.

I am a citizen, how am I concerned by the new initiatives?

The Commission's proposals will contribute to the reduction of air pollutants and CO2 emissions as well as noise and congestion from transport. This will improve health and living conditions of European citizens. Road users will also benefit from expected improvements in road safety due to better social conditions of professional drivers, notably proper rest periods and better enforcement.

Finally, commuters will enjoy better connected and integrated transport modes, notably by the possibility to use interurban bus and coach services more seamlessly in conjunction with other transport modes, or by benefiting of simpler tolling arrangements when driving abroad.

I work in the transport sector, how will the new measures improve my situation?

The Commission's proposals will improve the social conditions of workers active in the transport sector by defining clear rules at the EU level. This is particularly important for drivers, who are mobile and often working in several countries during one month. By having common and equally applied rules, for instance on the right to take their regular weekly rest outside of the cabins of trucks, drivers will be faced with less stress and fatigue.

The road transport sector still relies to a great extent on paper documents, which impose a high administrative burden on drivers. The Commission is today proposing to make a better use of digital technologies and to move towards electronic documents. This will greatly benefit drivers, who will not have to worry about paperwork. More information is available here.

I own a road haulage company, how will the Commission's proposals improve my situation?

The road haulage market in the EU is a very competitive market. Ensuring a level playing field for road hauliers is therefore crucial. The proposals on road transport clarify and simply rules, favouring law-abiding operators, ensuring that breaking the rules no longer pays off. Common rules across the EU will cut the administrative burden for haulage companies and the use of electronic documents will significantly cut red-tape.

Haulage companies will also see the benefits of the Commission's initiatives when choosing a new vehicle.Easily accessible CO2 emission and fuel consumption data will enable them to compare and purchase more efficient lorries, allowing them to save money on fuel bills, which can make up more than a quarter of their operating costs.

How will Member States and national enforcement authorities benefit from the initiatives?

The Commission is today proposing to give Member States the necessary tools to better manage and invest in infrastructure through smart road charging. It will also give them the possibility to better tackle the external costs of transport, such as air pollution, noise and congestion.

The Commission's initiatives will also ensure that Member States and national authorities can better control the road transport operations taking place on their territory and enforce rules in a more efficient way. This will be done by more targeted roadside checks, by facilitating cooperation between Member States and by resorting to smart tachographs.

How will manufacturers benefit from the initiatives?

More transparency on the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of new lorries will foster innovation and competition between manufacturers to produce more energy-efficient vehicles. With other key global markets such as the US, Canada, China and Japan having already introduced fuel efficiency measures for heavy-duty vehicles, it is vital for EU industry to keep pace and maintain their current leading role in vehicle efficiency. Increased public procurement of clean, low- and zero-emission vehicles will create additional demand for innovative vehicles and spur innovation, particularly in the area of heavy-duty transport.

I am a transport service provider; will the Commission's initiatives create new business opportunities?

By accelerating the digitalisation of transport, today's initiatives will create new business opportunities for innovative companies. Firstly, common EU standards for electronic tolling will make it easier for new players to offer EU-wide digital tolling devices to drivers. Secondly, service providers will be able to access travel date from all types of transport (such as scheduled buses, train, coaches, planes, etc.), which will allow them to create new apps or websites.

2. Key elements of the Commission's proposals

    a. Socially fair and competitive mobility

How will the proposed initiatives contribute to a level playing field in the road haulage sector?

Clearer and common rules, combined with better enforcement and the elimination of unnecessary red-tape, will contribute to a level playing field between road hauliers. For instance, the current rules on cabotage are implemented differently by some Member States, partly because they are considered difficult to enforce. The Commission proposes to simplify the rules to ensure that they are applied uniformly across the EU.

What are letterbox companies?

Letterbox companies are companies set up with the aim of circumventing legal obligations, usually in areas like taxation, social security, VAT and wages. They are used to obtain cost advantages by some hauliers. They are illegal but still often go undetected. The proposals define clearer criteria to crack down on the creation letterbox companies, in particular through enhanced cooperation between national enforcement authorities.

How will the proposed initiatives enhance the social framework and employment conditions of drivers?

Fighting "letterbox companies" will allow for fairer competition and better protection of workers. Furthermore, more clarity on the application of the Posting of Workers Directive, notably with respect to the proportionate and effective application of minimum wage laws, clarification and adaptation of weekly rest provisions, and an improved enforcement system will have a positive impact on social fairness. The proposals are balanced to protect drivers and to make sure that transport operators are not faced with extra red tape when their drivers are posted in other EU countries.

What is 'cabotage' and how will the rules change?

'Cabotage' is the term used to describe situations where a foreign truck makes national deliveries on the territory of an EU Member State right after an international trip from another Member State or from a country outside the EU. Until now, EU rules allowed for 3 cabotage operations within 7 days of the international delivery. The new rules will allow for unlimited cabotage operations within 5 days of the international delivery. This will be easier to enforce and will also allow trucks to have less empty runs, thereby sparing fuel on unproductive business. More information is available here.

What is the 'posting' of workers? Does it apply to truck drivers?

'Posting' is a situation where a worker works for a limited period in another EU Member State and temporarily acquires social rights in that Member State. An example is the right to earn the same pay rate as local workers.

In March 2016, the Commission proposed a revision of the Directive on the posting of workers and announced its intention to come up with specific rules for the road transport sector given the highly mobile nature of the work. Today the Commission is delivering on this engagement.

For international transport (i.e. from Member State "A" to Member State "B"), the Commission is proposing that drivers are considered as posted workers if they spend at least 3 days in a given calendar month on the territory of a Member State. All cabotage operations (i.e. deliveries within Member State "A") will be considered as posting of workers from day 1 – regardless of their duration. The Commission's proposals uphold the principle of "equal pay for equal work", while being proportionate so as not to create additional red-tape for operators and their drivers. More information is available here.

Is the Commission proposing to change the rules on rest and driving times?

Common European rules on rest and driving times of truck drivers are essential to keep our roads as safe as possible and to ensure good working conditions. The Commission is therefore not proposing to extend driving times or to change the number of rest periods that are required. What we are proposing is to make it easier for drivers to spend more time at home, rather than on the road. More information is available here.

Is sleeping in the cabin allowed or not?

The current rules are unclear and interpreted differently across Europe. The Commission is today proposing that drivers take their regular weekly rests (a compulsory break of 45 hours after a maximum of 6 days' work) outside of the cabin. Employers will have to provide decent accommodation for drivers. More information is available here.

Are vehicles under 3.5 tonnes in the scope of the Commission's proposals?

Several Member States reported on the growing use of vehicles below 3.5 tonnes for commercial transport. While the phenomenon remains limited, there is evidence of an increasing trend. Therefore, the Commission plans to make vans subject to some EU transport rules (e.g. on establishment of transport undertakings), which will not overly burden smaller operators. This will contribute to a "professionalisation" of the sector.

    b. Clean and sustainable mobility

How will the Commission increase fuel efficiency for heavier vehicles?

For Heavy Vehicles, the Commission plans to modify existing rules on permitted designs to improve aerodynamics. The Commission will also promote the uptake of the most fuel efficient vehicles through a monitoring and reporting of CO2 emissions and fuel consumption. The data to be monitored and reported will be determined using the Vehicle Energy Consumption Calculation Tool (VECTO). This will boost competition and encourage manufacturers to develop more fuel efficient vehicles. This monitoring data will also be of use to local authorities if they wish to design appropriate road user charging schemes to discourage the use of the dirtiest vehicles.

What is the Commission proposing concerning road charging?

Road-charging is a national competence. Member States are and will remain free to introduce or not road-charging on their territory. Should they decide to do so, the Commission is today proposing that they follow certain rules for all categories of vehicles. These rules aim to:

  • Provide for fairer pricing. Charging based on distance (i.e. tolls) as opposed to time (i.e. vignettes) better reflects actual usage, emissions and pollution. The Commission is therefore proposing to phase-out time-based systems after an appropriate transition phase (2023 for heavy-duty vehicles, 2027 for other categories).
  • Reward environmentally-friendly vehicles. In line with the "polluter-pays" principle, Member States should vary the level of the charge based on the CO2 performance of vehicles.
  • Contribute to sustainable infrastructure funding. Revenues collected can be an important contribution to financing infrastructure and bridge the current maintenance gap in the EU, estimated to be around €60 billion.

These proposals are accompanied with provisions for electronic tolling allowing seamless travel between Member States.

Will it possible to charge based on CO2 emissions, noise and air pollution?

Yes. Modulation of the charge based on CO2 emissions will be made compulsory to give users the incentives to purchase and to use cleaner vehicles. Member States will also have the possibility to charge based on external costs, such as noise, congestion and air pollution.

Will the Commission's proposal lead to higher costs for drivers?

No, the Commission proposal will not impose any increase of existing charges nor the introduction of new charges. The Commission's proposal establishes charging principles which will prevent Member States to overcharge drivers for the use of the road. It will also guarantee that drivers are not discriminated on the basis of their nationality through discriminatory pricing. Finally, in line with the "polluter-pays" principle, the most environmentally friendly cars will be rewarded with a lower charge. Owners of zero emission vehicles will for instance benefit of a mandatory 75% reduction.

What steps has the Commission taken to tighten rules on car emissions testing?

The Commission has introduced more robust and realistic testing methods for measuring both nitrogen oxides (NOx) and CO2 emissions from cars. And in January 2016, the Commission proposed a Regulation for a complete overhaul of the so-called car type approval framework. The proposal aims to ensure more independent vehicle testing and more checks on cars already in circulation. The proposal also foresees greater EU supervisory powers over national authorities, test centres and manufacturers, including the possibility to impose fines on manufacturers. More information is available here

    c. Connected mobility

Why is the Commission promoting electronic tolling?

Current EU tolling systems lack interoperability, which is a problem especially for cross-border traffic. Today, many different on board 'toll tags' and accounts are required to cross the continent. An interoperable system would allow one toll tag and one simple billing system for haulage companies. Besides better service to users, this will also reduce the cost of tolling and give the possibility for service providers to offer other valuable services. This is known as the EETS or European Electronic Tolling System.

Why are you proposing specification for an integrated journey planner? Some websites and apps already exist.

Today, certain websites provide information on journey planning. However, they lack the information required to provide all the options for scheduled public transport, especially for the 1 billion cross-border trips in the EU annually. The Commission aims to create national access points to gather data from all forms of transport. This could then be made available to third parties, to allow them to build new and more accurate journey planners.

Further information

Europe on the Move: Commission takes action for clean, competitive and connected mobility

Source: European Commission

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