Social Legislation in Road Transport & Digital Tachographs
Publication date: 07 December 2005
Today, the EP and Council delegations to the Conciliation Committee reached agreement on social legislation relating to road transport. Two related pieces of legislation were involved: a regulation on working time, breaks and rest periods for drivers engaged in road transport, and a directive on the enforcement of the legislation through checks and penalties.
Major points of disagreement between Parliament and Council affecting both the regulation and the directive concerned the introduction of a common spectrum of penalties for and infringements of the relevant legislation as well as the inclusion of the Working Time Directive so that the time a driver spends driving to his place of assignment and/or to (un)load his lorry can also be taken into account. Other key issues that were settled last night concerned the introduction of digital tachographs (which are more difficult to falsify than traditional tachographs), the number of minimum checks to be carried out by Member States and rest periods and breaks for drivers.
The agreement on digital tachographs states that 20 days after publication in the EC Official Journal of the regulation and the directive (expected at the beginning of April 2006) all new vehicles must be fitted with a digital tachograph.
Key points of the agreement are as follows:
1) Rest periods for drivers
Council and the EP had disagreed on the definition of a compulsory regulatory daily rest period for drivers. Council wanted this to mean an uninterrupted period of rest of at least 11 hours. Parliament would have preferred 12 hours but finally accepted the Council's figure in order not to block the legislation.
However, it was agreed that this rest period may, as an alternative, be taken in two periods, the first an interrupted period of at least 3 hours and the second an uninterrupted period of at least 9 hours.
2) Minimum checks
At Parliament's insistence the Council also had to accept that checks carried out by Member States should be increased from 2008 to at least 2% of days worked by drivers falling within the scope of the new legislation, and to at least 3% from 2010. The Council had originally proposed 2% from 2009 and 3% from 2011.
3) Common infringements and penalties
Council could not accept any reference to the harmonisation of penalties, arguing that penalties were a matter for the Member States. Nevertheless at Parliament's insistence the Council finally agreed to the introduction of a list of common infringements in the annex to the directive. In a declaration issued by the Commission the latter undertakes to provide a detailed list in future, which will be based on proposals by Parliament. Thus, serious infringements against the new regulation will include the following: exceeding the maximum daily, six-day or fortnightly driving time limits by a margin of 20% or more; disregarding the minimum daily or weekly rest period by a margin of 20% or more, disregarding the minimum break by a margin of 33% or more and using a tachograph not fitted in accordance with the requirements of the regulation.
4) Working Time Directive
On this issue, the Council stuck to its common position and refused to accept the inclusion, as Parliament wanted, of a reference to the Working Time Directive (Directive 2002/15/EC on the organisation of the working time of persons performing mobile road transport activities), so that a link could be established with the new legislation. All compromise proposals tabled by the EP delegation on this issue were turned down by the Council and this proved the most difficult issue to solve.
The two institutions finally agreed to include, in the recitals (the preamble) to the new directive, a reference to the importance of the Working Time Directive for the creation of a common market for road safety and for working conditions, and to include in the same directive a new recital stating that the risks from driver fatigue should also be addressed through enforcement of the Working Time Directive.
The aim of the regulation on driving times, breaks and rest periods, which will abrogate and replace Regulation 3820/85/EC is to update, clarify and simplify the EU legislation for drivers engaged in the carriage of goods and passengers by road.
The accompanying directive dealing with checks and penalties will abrogate and replace Directive 88/599/EC and update and enhance the quality and quantity of enforcement operations relating to road transport activities.