Afternoon tea with an expert in the field (2)

This time, allow me to introduce my esteemed colleague, Agnieszka Martinez, who heads the legal services at Move Expert and played a pivotal role in the creation of this blog. Sharing the same professional calling as myself, she possesses an intimate understanding of the challenges faced by transport companies on the road. With nearly six years of experience overseeing regulatory controls, she has adeptly represented EU transport companies before French labor authorities and various foreign administrations, both during roadside inspections and at official premises. Her responsibilities have included managing disputes, ensuring adherence to posting regulations, and orchestrating informative webinars and learning sessions for industry stakeholders.

So, without a doubt she is uniquely positioned to provide insights into how the Mobility Package has impacted the transport sector and the ensuing challenges:

We need to ensure efficient and consistent implementation of posting rules across all levels.
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Agnieszka Martinez
Legal counsel at Move Expert
Could you please explain what challenges you face during the controls?

I am deeply concerned about the challenges faced by transport operators during their daily operations and roadside checks, including language barriers and ongoing uncertainties in implementing Mobility Package rules. The lack of cooperation among Member States complicates preparation and understanding of what should be checked on the road versus at premises.

Recently, I’ve observed an increase in illegal control practices during roadside checks in France, which compromise uniformity and harmonization of controls in the EU and violate European law. Controllers pressure drivers to accept control protocols and pay deposits if documents are not immediately available on the road. French authorities often overlook the option of conducting follow-up controls at company premises, leading to lengthy roadside detentions for drivers.

In this context, among other factors, the most I can mention for instance requesting drivers to present additional not mandatory documents beyond those specified in Regulation (EU) No 165/2014 on tachographs, leading to excessively long control durations or inadequate time for employers to prepare required evidence during roadside checks.

In the context of roadside checks, drivers are the first to face challenges on the road. They are tasked with responding immediately to requests from foreign authorities, often without receiving a full understanding of the request or access to an interpreter.

In most cases, the controlling authorities initiate penal procedures without presenting details or allowing adequate time to prepare additional data on the road. This disregards the possibility of conducting further checks at a later time (ex post).

One of the main challenges is ensuring full compliance with complex and evolving regulations. Keeping up with regulatory changes and ensuring that all aspects of operations meet legal requirements can be demanding.

We are supporting our clients by facilitating cooperation with foreign authorities and offering guidance to help navigate these challenges successfully. In cases involving international operations, language barriers or misunderstandings can complicate inspections. Clear and effective communication between inspectors, drivers, and transport operators is essential and crucial.

Perhaps, the transport companies are not well prepared during the road checks?

Transport operators should prepare themselves and collaborate with drivers to ensure full compliance with posting rules. The key to success, in my opinion, is driver training and awareness. Companies need to ensure that their drivers are well-trained and informed about all relevant regulations and compliance protocols. Without adequate training and awareness, companies and drivers may inadvertently violate regulations during checks.

In order to be compliant, international drivers should receive training on their rights and obligations under the Mobility Package 1 rules, such as the right to return home and choose rest locations and many others. However, they should also be informed about other obligations and potential risks, including the proper use of tachographs, adherence to working time directive rules, cabotage regulations, cooling-off periods, and the presentation of mandatory documents such as CMR letters and European Community Licenses, as well as downloading DDD files from tachographs. There is still a significant lack of knowledge on this matter.

In my 6 years of experience with foreign authorities during road inspections, I have encountered language barriers and miscommunication with controlling authorities. I’ve realized that cooperation and effective communication between drivers, transport operators or dispatchers and controlling authorities are crucial for successful operations and checking compliance.

I believe that effective cooperation between Member States and their administrations is key to achieving efficient and harmonized implementation of the Mobility Package rules.

Do you maintain contact with the national authorities and European Commission?

We have addressed the European Commission about the problems we face. We have had discussion on this topic and next week there is a scheduled meeting between Move Expert with the European Commission. My team and I will bring attention to the described difficulties of the transport operators.

For example, in France, drivers are stopped on the road for few hours, sometimes even up to 24 or 36 hours, they are often do not understand requests during roadside controls, leading directly to penal procedures without requesting supporting documents from the operator.

The European Commission confirmed that national authorities can issue fines based on oral admissions from drivers, if recognized by Member State legislation.

I am aware of the European Commission’s efforts, but I haven’t seen changes in how controlling authorities conduct roadside checks. Further action is needed from the European Commission and European Labor Authority.

The European Commission allows fines based on oral admissions from drivers, but in France, drivers often don’t understand requests during roadside controls, leading to penal procedures without operator documents.

As I mentioned, we advocate for common European recommendations on oral admissions to address this issue. We urge for unified controlling practices across the EU to provide legal clarity for transport operators and enhance enforcement of EU rules under Mobility Package.

What are the next steps in order to help for equal checks?

We need to ensure efficient and consistent implementation of posting rules across all levels.

Dissemination of good control practices is crucial for harmonized implementation of the Mobility Package rules. Establish feedback monitoring mechanisms to track implementation progress in all Member States and gather feedback from stakeholders. Use this information to identify areas for improvement and refine control practices over time. They are still a lot of unclarity and things to cooperate.

How do you plan to help the sector? - Meetings with EU, lobbying, etc.

I’m concerned about the proper implementation of the MP 1 rules, even if we all know about the commitment of the EC, of the ELA and of the IRU through Trace 2 project. I believe that encouraging cooperation and collaboration among transport operators, drivers, controlling authorities, and transport associations is essential for exchanging best practices and collectively addressing challenges in the international transport sector. By fostering partnerships focused on promoting compliance and dismantling good control practices, stakeholders can work together to implement effective solutions, share valuable insights, and strengthen overall industry standards. This collaborative approach, in my view, facilitates mutual learning, builds trust, and drives continuous improvement in regulatory compliance and operational performance across the transportation industry.

What are your recommendations for transport companies and drivers?

Maintaining a good reputation is crucial for haulers to retain their Community License. Transport undertakings must demonstrate compliance with relevant regulations governing road transport within the EU. This includes adherence to safety standards, working time rules, posting declaration if needed and other legal requirements related to the ERRU penalty points.

Is there anything positive about the sector? We know the drivers' shortage, fines, and the financial collapse.

Despite challenges, such as driver shortages, fines, and financial pressures, the transport sector remains a significant job creator, offering employment opportunities for drivers, logistics professionals, technicians, and support staff across various roles. Transportation is vital for maintaining supply chains, supporting trade, and enabling economic growth. The sector plays a crucial role in ensuring goods reach consumers and businesses efficiently. We should all take care of this sector, who was alone working at Covid time.

The goal of our team is to work closely with the European Commission during the next mandate, so together we can build equality on the EU level and make the profession attractive. Now we have established rules which need to be very well implemented by the control authorities. We are also waiting for the final decision of the ECJ about the returning of the truck. In addition, I would say law making is different than the practice and it one side of the coin. We have the other side of it – the real controls and evidence about the checks. Both together could form and equal implementation of the law.

Well said, I would like to thank you for this clarification concerning the Mobility Package 1 and road transport sector. I hope that the aims you have will be achieved.

I am proud that within our team we managed to address all the problems of the haulers before the national authorities, international transport organization, European Commission. This is the only way to achieve our goal – to inform the relevant stakeholders about the diverse interpretation of the law which may lead to differences in the controls and the sanctions.

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