EU’s reply to Joint Letter from Road Haulier’s Associations to EC and ELA

I am delighted to bring some encouraging news and keep you informed about the recent progress concerning our joint letter sent to the European Commission and the European Labour Authority on May 30, 2023.

The transport associations came together in a joint letter and expressed their profound concerns about the roadside control practices in France, which they consider to be in direct violation of European Law.

The joint letter dated 30.05.2023, sent to the European Commission and the European Labour Authority, was a result of collective efforts from four Associations : TTLA, NiT Hungary, Polska Unia Transportu, STOWARZYSZENIE POLSKICH PRZEWOŹNIKÓW we Francji, and Move Expert.

The letter was sent to share concerns regarding roadside controls of foreign transport undertakings in the territory of France in relation to enforcement of Article 8(8) and 8(a) of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 on the right to suitable accommodation and obligation to organise the return of the driver home.

We, the undersigned organizations, urge you, therefore, to take all necessary actions to ensure that the French controlling practices are in line with EU law and follow the EU guidelines and recommendations. We are aware that the Commission has already taken some important steps, including the publication of the Note on enforcement practices of Article 8(8) of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 on the ban to take regular weekly rest periods in a vehicle. Unfortunately, we have not observed any changes in the way controls are executed by the French authorities. We, therefore, believe that further initiatives are needed from the European Commission and European Labour Authority.”

Illegal roadside control practises in France

It results clearly from the Mobility Package, Question and Answers documents published by the Commission, as well as the recently adopted Note on enforcement practices of Article 8(8) of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 on the ban to take regular weekly rest periods in a vehicle, that French controlling practice is in violation of EU law.

As of now, the participating associations, along with Move Expert monitoring the action, have received a response indicating that roadside enforcers cannot penalize drivers for failing to present missing control documents during road inspections.

The European Commission has confirmed that:

However, pursuant to Article 34(3) of Regulation (EU) No 165/2014, Member States’ authorities may not require drivers to provide documents attesting activities while away from the vehicle to prove compliance with Article 8 of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006. Consequently, roadside enforcers cannot fine drivers for not showing these documents.

EU law requires Member States to organize a system of adequate checks on transport undertakings both at the roadside and at the premises of undertakings. This includes compliance with the principle of proportionality, which is a general principle of EU law. Annex I of Directive 2006/22/EC (4) distinguishes between what should be normally checked at the roadside and what should be normally checked at the premises of the undertakings. Recital 9 of the Directive states that ‘Member States should seek to ensure, without prejudice to the proper execution of the tasks imposed by this Directive, that roadside checks are executed efficiently and quickly, with a view to completing the check in the shortest time possible and with the least delay for the driver’s.”

“When authorities request documents, other than those resulting from Article 36 of Regulation (EU) No 165/2014 at the roadside, they would be in breach of the Directive, and operators affected by such practices should appeal to the competent French authorities and/or jurisdictions for reimbursement of the imposed fines.”

This is a significant step forward, and it reaffirms the importance of our joint efforts to ensure harmonized and coordinated proper enforcement of road transport legislation on our roads. We believe, with the associations, that this action will help EU control officers conduct roadside driver interviews more effectively.

Please find the official version of the reply from the European Commission to the joint letter.

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