Commission's 'mobility' package proposals receive rather positive response
Brussels, 01/06/2017 (Agence Europe) – Although the proposals formulated by the Commission yesterday on the mobility package (see EUROPE 11798) obtained an overall positive response from MEPs and civil society, the question of the measures planned is at the heart of the debate. The responses on Wednesday 31 May were not long in coming and follow the College of Commissioners’ mobility package, which consists of a raft of proposals in the road transport sector.
Violeta Bulc, the Commissioner for Transport, and Maroš Šefčovič, the Commissioner for Energy Union, were invited to debate with MEPs during the Brussels mini plenary session. The responses expressed by the MEPs to the Commissioners were rather positive.
Wim Van de Camp (EPP, Belgium) was the first to speak. He explained that, “A child is born, that took time and the birth was difficult. Nonetheless, we now have a beautiful child and I congratulate you for it”. He did add, however, that Parliament would attempt to begin an examination of the different proposals on the table next week. Despite their more reserved optimism, given the possible improvements that need to be made, MEPs from the S&D and ALDE groups returned to the image provided by Dutch MEP, Ismail Ertug (S&D, Germany) who asserted, “Let’s try and make sure that the baby is still beautiful tomorrow”. Pavel Telička (ALDE, Czech Republic) stated, “The baby has been born and we need to ensure that it grows well”. The Czech MEP also called for the package to be adopted during this current legislature.
MEPs welcome the project to put an end to Eurovignette
One of the key projects in this mobility package involves putting an end to the vignette that allows vehicles to use roads that apply toll fees for the time spent on them. Therefore, although the member states did decide to make road users pay, this will be on the basis of a toll fee system based on distance and which is more in compliance with the “polluter pays” principle.
Karima Delli (Greens/EFA, France), the chairperson of the European Parliament transport committee was generally pleased about this point and stated, “The revision of the Eurovignette goes in the right direction on environmental aspects…Basing fees on the distance travelled and not on the duration of the journey is a demand that environmentalists have been making for a long time. We do therefore welcome it. We still need to go further in the near future and make the mechanism compulsory and not just voluntary”. Mr Van de Camp also declared that this new system would be “a good thing”.
Progress made in social arena appreciated but it’s still not enough
The questions of social dumping and working conditions for road transport employees have been at the heart of the debate over the past few weeks. The European Parliament also sent out a strong message to the Commission during the plenary session on 18 May, calling on the institution not to totally liberalise cabotage. Although the proposals presented on Wednesday 31 May on the application of the directive on posted transport workers and cabotage are less liberal than what had previously been envisaged, MEPs are not all pleased with the result.
Rina Ronja Kari (GUE/NGL, Denmark) said that this package, “could be a disaster for those working in this sector”. She added that “We have to defend our workers”. On a less peremptory note Christine Revault D’Allonnes (S&D, France) said that “Although some Commission proposals go in the right direction (pay, return of lorry drivers to their homes, letterboxed companies, Ed), other proposals send out a contradictory and negative signal. At the time the EU is making a commitment to the European pillar on social rights… excluding, even for a limited period, international transport operations from the ‘posted workers’ directive would make the application of this principle to lorry drivers more vulnerable”. Mr Van de Camp also said that they should closely examine questions relating to cabotage and the minimum wage. These issues were also raised by Mr Telicka, who called for social standards to be respected.
Despite the fact that the Commission proposals on the social questions do not go far enough for all the different groups, the progressive parties are, nonetheless, pleased that the proposed changes are not as liberal as those envisaged a few weeks ago.
In this connection, it should be pointed out that the rather proactive approach taken by the new French president, Emmanuel Macron, is not totally alien in this respect. The French Minister for Transport, Élisabeth Borne, also welcomed, “the different areas of this Commission proposal, which goes in the direction of the position stated by the French President and government. If they are adopted they will help to partly respond to some of these concerns”. She added that, “only clear and operational rules that are able to be effectively implemented and overseen, will be deemed credible for responding to the expectations of our citizens and businesses in favour of a stronger more protective and more intelligent and fairer Europe”.
One European source confided in EUROPE that the challenge for the arch critics of total liberalisation of road transport is particularly focused on the question of controls, even if this means slightly retreating on the issue as a whole.
Civil society pleased overall, except for the unions
A majority of civil society groups gave the mobility package a positive response, particularly with regard to withdrawing the vignette system. The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (EAMA), Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) and Transport & Environment (T&E) welcome the proposal. William Todts, Executive Director of the T&E said, “making drivers pay for the number of kilometers driven encourages them to use roads more efficiently and discourages them making journeys without transporting goods, whilst reducing congestion and pollution”.
On the question of working conditions and social dumping, the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) was highly critical of the Commission proposals. The ETF therefore spoke against the exclusion of the posted workers regime below the three day threshold of time worked in another member state and is calling for application and control measures. (Original version in French by Lucas Tripoteau)
Quelle: Agence Europe am 01.06.2017