EU’s road transport package aims to keep the sector competitive
The European Commission’s proposals for road transport regulations cover road charging, market access and working times, among others. The Finnish Government supports the initiatives that aim to help the sector stay competitive and shift towards digital and low-emission transport. At the same time the Commission’s initiatives also aim to make traffic safer, cut red tape for businesses and safeguard workers’ social rights.
The European Commission published its proposal for a road transport package on 31 May 2017. The package contains legislative initiatives on market access, social issues, road charging, and a CO2 emissions monitoring and reporting system for heavy goods vehicles.
The Commission proposes several amendments to the legislation on the charging of heavy goods vehicles (Eurovignette Directive). The goal is to promote efficient and low-emission transport and safeguard sufficient funding for the maintenance and development of the transport network.
To reach these objectives the Commission proposes that time-based user charging be phased out and replaced by distance-based charging within a transition period. The Commission proposes to facilitate the transition to distance-based charging by removing statutory vehicle taxes for heavy goods vehicles. The Commission also proposes that charging could be extended to all vehicles and the whole road network, since CO2 emissions are generated in all regions and by all types of vehicles. The basic premise of the Directive will, however, remain unchanged: the Member States can still decide themselves whether they introduce road charging or not.
The Government welcomes the proposal that decisions to introduce road charging be made by the Member States themselves. The Commission’s proposal for a directive gives as a rule the Member States a sufficient level of flexibility and freedom of choice. However, Finland is a large and sparsely populated country where distance-based charging could increase the costs of mobility. For this reason the Government considers that although time-based charging does not implement the ‘user pays’ principle as efficiently as distance-based charging, the phasing out of time-based charging for heavy goods vehicles should be extended beyond 2023. The Government also thinks it important that the legislation will not restrict the development of new kinds of funding models or transport packages.
The Commission’s other initiatives concerning access to road haulage market, cabotage, driving and rest periods, tachographs, posting of road transport workers, monitoring of workers’ social conditions are, in the Government’s view, in the right direction.
Any number of cabotage operations would be allowed in one Member State within 5 days of international delivery, according to the Commission’s proposal. Currently only 3 cabotage operations within 7 days of international delivery are allowed. The Government finds, however, several points in the Commission’s proposals that need to be further specified in order to reach the targets set for the legislation.
The Commission also proposes new rules on market access for light goods vehicles, vans especially. It does not propose that light goods vehicles should have a Community licence. However, hauliers using such vehicles should have premises in the country of establishment and meet certain solvency requirements.
In Finland, the Act on Transport Services will reduce the requirements for vans so that in future transport service providers must register with the Finnish Transport Safety Agency instead of applying for a licence, which is the current practice. The Government maintains that even the EU should seek a solution that takes into account the circumstances of different countries without introducing unnecessary barriers to the market access of light goods vehicles.
The Government supports the proposals concerning a monitoring and reporting system for CO2 emissions. The proposals will help EU Member States to meet their national targets for reducing emissions. It will also make environmentally friendly choices easier and give incentives for vehicle manufacturers to develop low-emission solutions.
The Government submitted its communication concerning the EU road transport package to Parliament on 5 July 2017.
Laura Eiro, Director of Unit, tel. +358 295 34 2668 (market access)
Eleonoora Eilittä, Senior Officer, tel. +358 295 34 2089 (traffic emission reductions)
Director of Unit Sanna Ruuskanen, tel. +358 295 34 2077 (Eurovignette Directive, vehicle taxation)