Commenting on the recent European Commission (EC) report on integrating the internal market for road transport, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has warned that it believes that this is not the right time for further relaxation of cabotage rules.
Despite recent, welcome, action by Government to abandon fuel duty increases, UK operators still have amongst the highest operating costs in Europe.
"Under these circumstances foreign registered vehicles enjoy a competitive advantage, yet evidence suggests their compliance rates are not as good as UK operators" – commented FTA Director of Policy Karen Dee, who continued: "whilst FTA is pleased that the EC Report recognises that differences in costs bases remain across the EU, we do not believe that this is the right time for further liberalisation of the cabotage rules."
Referring to FTA commissioned research from NERA Economic Consulting, the Association outlined finds which demonstrated that UK freight operators face higher costs than most other EU states – largely as a result of higher fuel duties which apply in the United Kingdom.
Taken from the NERA Freight Truck Operating Costs in Europe Report (May 2013):
COUNTRY TOTAL INDEX – MARCH 2013
Without Road User Levy With Road User Levy
United Kingdom 100 100
Belgium 92 101
Czech Republic 80 82
France 89 98
Germany 97 98
Hungary 81 82
Ireland 98 100
Lithuania 81 83
Netherlands 104 106
Poland – –
Romania 77 79
Spain 97 87
Ms Dee added:
"The recently introduced UK HGV Road User Levy clearly will go some way to reduce the competitive situation. We strongly feel that there is still a long way to go to ensure that it becomes a level playing field for all."
The main findings of the EC report were:
The enforcement authorities of Member States must step up their efforts in enforcing existing legislation more effectively and consistently.
The Commission and the EU can help by clarifying rules that are understood, interpreted and implemented differently in different Member States.
Social rules must be better applied in road transport if the sector is to attract new drivers, and be able to handle the expected future demand for freight transport.
The EU has an opportunity to improve the efficiency of its economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport.