The EU single market for road transport has established harmonised rules in several areas such as access to the profession and market, working and driving time, and rest periods. Also, it has led to more efficient and customer-oriented transport services and safer operations.
However, the sector is suffering from some major imperfections. Some hauliers make use of “letterbox” companies to circumvent labour laws of the country they are actually primarily operating in. Often drivers are paid under the labour laws of a given country, despite spending the majority of their time in other countries. The definition and application of the condition of “posted worker” are rarely recognised and even less enforced. Protection of workers is essential. However, uncoordinated national initiatives to protect national workers (e.g. minimum wage laws, prohibition for drivers to have their regular weekly rest in the cabin of the vehicle) fragment the international road transport market.
International transport operations have been fully liberalised in the EU, yet the market is not operating efficiently because restrictions remain on cabotage operations. Member States interpret these restrictions differently and sometimes try to limit operations by foreign hauliers. Above all, EU rules can only be effective if their enforcement is guaranteed in all Member States – which is not the case at present.
How can these imperfections on the market side as well as on the social side be overcome?
The Florence Road Forum will take stock of existing initiatives and look at new approaches to solve some of the most pressing issues in the European road transport market. Following the usual format of the Florence Transport Forums, in each session speakers and participants will have the chance to contribute to the discussion moderated by Prof Matthias Finger (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne and European University Institute). Representatives of the European Commission, of major stakeholders as well as leading academics will engage in the discussion. Discussions will address four central questions:
- How can the problem of “letterbox firms” in the road sector be tackled effectively?
- How to ensure proper enforcement of EU labour rules in the road sector?
- How can cabotage rules be made clearer and easier to enforce, so that the same rules apply across the EU?
- How to balance the free market and the protection of social rights of workers in the sector?
Introduction to the Road Transport Forum MATTHIAS FINGER, Part-time Professor & Director of the Transport Area, Florence School of Regulation/EUI; and Professor, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
How can the problem of “letterbox firms” in the road sector be tackled effectively? MYRIAM JANS, Manager European Affairs Dutch Association Transport and Logistics (TLN)
How can the problem of “letterbox firms” in the road sector be tackled effectively? JAN NEMEC, General Delegate ad interim IRU Permanent Delegation to the EU
How to ensure proper enforcement of EU labour rules in the road sector? GERARD SCHIPPER, ECR general delegate
New cabotage rules A real need for an international transport sector? JOANNA JASIEWICZ, Transport and Logistics Poland / Gide law firm
Clear and Effective Cabotage – the UK approach ELIZABETH SHOVELTON, Head of Operator Licensing and Roadworthiness, Department for Transport (UK)
How to balance the free market and the protection of social rights of workers in the sector? DIRK SAILE, Head Brussels Office, German Road Haulage Association