On 20 December 2019, the Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) approved a set of proposals part of the first mobility package, presented by the Commission in June 2017, and aimed at securing a forthcoming reform of the EU road transport sector.

A first group of rules concerns drivers’ working conditions, and will apply 20 days after publication. More particularly, despite keeping the rules on maximum work and minimum rest times for drivers unchanged, it will introduce a degree of flexibility in the organisation of work schedules for drivers in international freight transport to enable them to spend more time at home, and drivers will be guaranteed the right to return home every three or four weeks, depending on their work schedule. Furthermore, the regular weekly rest period (at least 45 hours) is confirmed to be spent outside the vehicle, and if taken away from home the accommodation must be paid for by the employer.

The second group of rules deals with the posting of drivers in international transport, clarifying how professional drivers in goods or passenger transport will benefit from the principle of the same pay for the same work at the same place. Specifically, if an operation is organised in such a way that the link between the driver’s work and the country of establishment remains intact, he will be excluded from posting rules, and similarly bilateral transport operations will be excluded as well. The new rules, moreover, which will become applicable 18 months after the entry into force of the legal acts, on the way to the destination country and back will allow one additional activity of loading and/or unloading goods in both directions without falling under the posting regime, or zero activity on the way out and up to two activities on the way back.

Finally, the mobility package includes rules on access to the haulage market and improved enforcement. As for the access, in order to ensure a level playing field between operators using different vehicles the related rules, as well as driving and rest-time ones, will be extended to cover vans used in international transport (light commercial vehicles of over 2.5 tonnes), with a transition period of 21 months for market supervision, and until the middle of 2026 for tachograph and rest‑time rules. As for an improved enforcement, instead, one key element is having a reliable way to register when and where the truck has crossed a border and to localise loading and unloading activities. Therefore, the second version of the smart tachograph, which will do all this automatically, will be introduced in three different stages for vehicles carrying out international transport.

The agreed text, which must be formally adopted first by the Council and then by the Parliament, aims at ensuring a balance between improved working conditions for drivers and the freedom to provide cross-border services for operators. Furthermore, it will also contribute to road safety by providing a much-needed clarity for the sector and by putting an end to uneven application of rules between member States.