Malta two years too late in opposing EU trucking rest rules, says PN candidate

Former PN MEP candidate Peter Agius says Malta may be too late in opposing EU rule that will force trucking companies to give drivers mandatory 45-hour rest every three weeks

Former PN candidate Peter Agius
Former PN candidate Peter Agius

Malta has been late in opposing EU rules that will force trucking companies to give drivers longer rest periods, the former Nationalist Party MEP candidate Peter Agius has said.

Agius, formerly a spokesperson for Italian MEP Antonio Tajani, said it was “too late” for Malta to cry foul over EU rules that force trucking companies to give drivers mandatory rest periods when the rules had started being discussed back in May 2017.

“Surely it’s right that the transport minister meets private operators who will be affected by this regulation, but this is two years too late,” he said of Ian Borg’s meeting with Maltese cabotage companies Attrans, Falcotrans , Express Trailers, and Fahrenheit.

Borg said Malta would back truck companies and fight new EU rules which will impinge Malta’s competitiveness.

The European Parliament recently voted in favour of amendments to EU rules forcing trucking companies to provide a paid rest period of around 45 hours every three to four consecutive weeks, at “the employer’s establishment or to the drivers’ place of residence”.

Trucks will also have to return to the company’s headquarters every eight weeks, in a move designed to prevent haulage companies from trying to register in other EU countries to take advantage of lower taxes.

Companies believe the rules will cost them between €500,000 and €1 million because of the need to buy more trucks and employ more people. 

“The responsible committees in the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers where Borg sites have already agreed on this regulation which is expected to be adopted in the weeks to come,” Agius said.

“The European Commission proposal has been on the table since May 2017, and was discussed by MEPs five times in the EP, and presented without any amendments from Labour MEPs inside the transport committee.”

Borg has said Malta will voice its objections along with Cyprus, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania, which have written to Commission Vice President Timmermans and Transport Commissioner Adina Valean to have the rules annulled.

“These countries’ pressure will not be enough to change the rules,” Agius said. “I hope I’m mistaken and that the government manages to stop the rules inside the Council or with a plenary vote in the EP. But it will be difficult because our action comes too late. The Maltese government must learn to coordinate better in the earlier stages of such laws, systematically meet stakeholders, and regularly meet MEPs to coordinate Malta positions at European level.”

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