Malta challenges EU trucking rules in Court of Justice complaint

Malta files complaint for the first Mobility Package before the Court of Justice of the European Union

Malta has filed a complaint before the Court of Justice of the European Union against the Mobility Package I, a series of trucking rules which have affected the local industry because of its onerous obligations.

Maltese industrialists said the new rules will raise their costs of cabotage and logistics by at least 10% because of mandatory conditions for drivers’ rest times and their place of rest.

Despite a late bid this year by transport minister Ian Borg to take up the matter in the European Council, no agreement was reached, with EU ministers taking none of Malta’s pleas for regard of its industry on board.

The rules force 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”.

They also force companies to have the trucks 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.

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

The government said that the measures adopted by the Council and MEPs in July, which include the return-home and cabotage cooling-off rules, were not part of the original proposals presented by the European Commission but added towards the end of the legislative procedure, notwithstanding the objections of several member states, including Malta.

“These measures were therefore not subject to a proper impact assessment by the EU institutions. A KPMG study commissioned by the government shows that both these rules are expected to have a negative impact on Malta, making road haulage operations more costly, mainly as a result of Malta’s geographic position, and having also a negative impact on the environment,” Borg said today.

Borg said the adopted measures violate the EU Treaty provisions and lead to distortion of the EU Single Market by including measures that serve to disrupt road haulage operations, increase costs for consumers and exports, and disproportionately and adversely affect a peripheral and island member state like Malta.

“Malta is therefore requesting the Court of Justice to annual these measures. Like Malta, there are other European Union member states that have initiated or are in the process to initiate a similar annulment action on the same or other measures within the Mobility Package. This is the first time, Malta is challenging a measure in the CJEU.”

Better working conditions for drivers

The new rules will help ensure better rest conditions for drivers and allow them to spend more time at home, by forcing companies to return drivers in international freight transport every three or four weeks.

The mandatory rest period at the end of the week, known as regular weekly rest, cannot be taken in the truck cab. If this rest period is taken away from home, the company must pay for accommodation costs.

The rules will also ensure fairer competition and fight illegal practices with vehicle tachographs to register border-crossings in the fight against fraud, as well as also limiting cabotage to three operations within seven days.

A provisional agreement was already reached between the Council presidency and the European Parliament in December 2019. The Transport Committee first backed the deal with the EU Ministers on 21 January. The Council adopted the reform on 7 April.

 

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