Minister of Transport, Yiannis Karousos and his Bulgarian, Estonian, Latvian, Polish, Lithuanian, Maltese and Romanian counterparts, met Tuesday with the Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans and the Commissioner for Transport, Anna Ioana Valean, to raise the issue and implications of a new rule that calls for commercial transport vehicles, lorries and trucks operating within the single market, to return to the licensing Member State every eight weeks, included in the “EU mobility package“, currently under negotiation.
The Minister of Transport said that he and his counterparts met with the EU Commissioner for Transport and Vice-President Timmermans, on the issue of the mobility package and the condition that has been added and provides “for a return of the vehicle every eight weeks to its base, which is unacceptable to us, for two main reasons”.
“We had put forward our argument and explained by example that a truck which is currently licensed in Cyprus and makes a shipment to Brussels, would have to travel 3,000 kilometers to reach Athens, the port of Piraeus and then travel three more days by boat, if there is a ferry connection, to do another 625 nautical miles to reach Cyprus and then return again, driver and vehicle, to the EU to continue operating”, the Minister explained.
The Minister pointed out that the second issue he raised with his counterparts is that this practice is not in line with the environmental objectives set by the EU and the Green New Deal as the environmental impact will rather increase, instead of the opposite.
“Both the Commissioner and the Vice-President have announced that they are conducting an impact study where, depending on the outcome, if we are justified, our concerns will be taken accordingly,” he said.
“If we do not succeed in changing this condition, that is to say, the vehicles will be obliged to return every 8 weeks to their country base, then we have discussed with the other Transport Ministers about legal measures that we must submit to the European Court,” Karousos said.
In the letter, obtained by CNA, the Minister of Transport and his colleagues stated the following:
“In this context, we welcome the European Commission’s commitment to conduct an impact assessment regarding some elements of the provisional agreement on Mobility Package I (the Agreement). In its statement of December 20, 2019, the Commission rightfully noted that ‘the compulsory return of the vehicle to the Member State of establishment every 8 weeks and the restrictions imposed on combined transport operations are not in line with the ambitions of the European Green Deal’. This statement is in line with the positions presented by our countries during the legislative process.”
“In particular, the obligation for the vehicle to return to the country of establishment, introduced in the Agreement at the request of the European Parliament, contradicts the EU’s climate policy objectives and the Paris Agreement goals and will result in additional empty runs and CO2 emissions from the road transport sector. Importantly, the provision limits the geographical area of operations for road transport undertakings to the vicinity of the Member State of establishment, undermining the Single Market by disproportionately restricting the access of these operators because of their geographical location and effectively excluding island Member States.”
“National studies show that the return of the vehicles will result in additional empty runs and, by extension, in extra CO2 emissions from the road transport sector per year. These analyses are, nevertheless, fragmented, refer mostly to the national level and do not measure fully the impact across the entire EU. Therefore, the follow-up on the Commission’s initiative which will measure the impact of the new proposal at the European level is truly necessary.”
“Moreover, we are of the opinion that such Impact Assessment should not only focus on the two elements indicated in the Commission’s statement of December 2019 but should be extended to other elements of the Agreement that proved to be deeply controversial during the legislative process and which may also increase carbon footprint of the transport sector. These include, among others, restrictions on cabotage or limitations concerning multiple loading/unloading operations (multi-drop operations). None of these has been assessed in terms of their impact on the road transport sector, climate or environment. The EU simply cannot risk adopting measures that might bring more negative than positive effects on the European transport sector.”