The EU’s transport ministers have decided by majority that independent truckers should not be bound by the same limits on time spent behind the wheel as the employees of haulage companies.
This contradicts the European Parliament’s position. It argues that all professional drivers should work the same 48-hours-per-week EU maximum. The drivers have been protesting that unequal treatment will create unhealthy competition conditions. They are concerned that companies obliged to stick to the limit could be pressed to hire independents, putting jobs at risk. And since the measures are linked to safety on the roads, putting lives at risk at the same time as livelihoods. Some of the ministers expressed reservations. The revision of a 2002 law on driving time is due for debate at the European Parliament’s plenary session in May, the last one before the elections. Also up for discussion in the Council was a law allowing EU states to charge heavy goods vehicles for the fumes and noise they produce, the controversial “Eurovignette”. Governments like the ‘polluter pays’ principle but worry that congestion charging would be more than the struggling road transport sector can bear.