Soon-to-be agreed European regulations have brought safer roads and fairer European competition closer, says leading trade body the Freight Transport Association (FTA).
Since 2007, FTA has been leading negotiations within various European institutions to influence EU Regulations, which cleared the first hurdle towards adoption yesterday (31 March).
Chris Yarsley, FTA's Road Freight, Enforcement and EU Affairs Manager, said:
“FTA has lobbied hard to ensure UK hauliers are not exposed to even greater levels of unfair competition in the domestic market. There seems to be a shared spirit of cooperation between countries, where enforcement agencies and operators are all keen to improve road safety and clampdown on rogue operators.”
Regulations will harmonise and tighten up road operator licensing and introduce new rules governing cabotage, the latter possibly coming into force as early as January 2010.
In the UK, roadside checks will be enforced by VOSA to ensure that foreign drivers are complying with the 3-journeys-in-7 days cabotage rule and are only operating on an ad hoc basis, and not by prearranged contract when in the UK. This will mean domestic work cannot be sub-contracted out to foreign operators so easily and will put the onus on drivers to prove that they are not engaged in 'permanent or continuous activity'.
The new 'Admission to the Occupation' Regulation that also forms part of this road transport package will improve operator standards across the EU and, for the first time, bring clearly defined responsibilities for Transport Managers in Europe. Crucially, it will see the electronic linking of national registers of road transport operators across all EU Member States. This will allow for offences committed outside the 'home' Member State to be reported back and be logged onto the Operator's licence history.
“Working with the DfT we have achieved a very good deal that will bring stricter standards for vehicle operators across Europe. No doubt the work needed to achieve interconnected database registers will be onerous and there are still a great many obstacles to overcome, but this should not divert us from our aim.
“What we now need is a long-term deal from our own government to address the massive fuel duty differential which makes UK companies less competitive than our continental neighbours.”