Chamber says Malta haulage challenge highlights need for EC impact assessment

Chamber: Impact assessments should take place on significant changes introduced by the EU Council and the European Parliament during the legislative process

The Chamber of Commerce has welcomed an opinion from Malta’s Advocate General on the disputed EU Mobility Package 1, asking the European Court of Justice to strike off a provision for the compulsory return of heavy goods vehicles to the member state of establishment, every eight weeks.

The cabotage rules made law in the EU are being challenged by a host of member states, Malta included, who filed a case in the EU’s Court against various provisions of the law, which was approved by a majority of EU countries.

The Chamber said the rules, intended to provide protection for truck drivers on long European routes, clearly went against the principles of the European Green Deal by forcing the return of heavy vehicles to their country of registration, as a way of ensuring drivers get well-earned rest.

“It is inexplicable how returning trucks to the member state of establishment is compatible with the general principles of the economy, operational efficiency, and climate protection goals,” the Chamber of Commerce said.

“This would result in a dramatic impact on the increase in transport emissions in the EU, thus impeding the EU in its long-term goals of achieving a 90% reduction in transport emissions and climate-neutrality by 2050.”

Road transport operators had warned EU legislators that most vehicles required to return to their member state of establishment would travel empty, which would result in unnecessary additional traffic on the continent’s road network.

The measure is excessively restrictive and discriminatory against peripheral countries and islands like Malta, because it placed Maltese road haulage companies at a disadvantage, given that they would be required to board a ferry compared to other operators that would only be required to cross a land border. As a result, this would add disproportionate additional costs to the road transport operators and consequently to business clients and end consumers.

The Chamber said it wants the European Commission to introduce criteria for a ‘Territorial Proofing’ or ‘Insularity Test’ to complement its Competitiveness Check as part of the overall impact assessment process to identify provisions that would negatively impact specific member states for conditions derived by their geographic location. “Impact assessments should take place on significant changes introduced by the EU Council and the European Parliament during the legislative process, which in cases such as the Mobility Package I would have identified the inconsistency of such a provision with the EU Treaties and the overall EU climate policy,” the Chamber said.