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HGVs parking at a rest area
HGVs parking at a rest area

Source: Fotolia / Erwin Wodicka

The European Parliament dealt with the mobility package Part I on July 8, 2020 and
The majority voted for the reforms contained therein. The legislative process has thus been successfully completed.

The Mobility Package I contains numerous new rules for the posting of professional drivers, access to the market and the profession as well as for social legislation. The intention is to prepare the ground for a safer, more efficient and socially responsible road transport sector in the future. The Package also eliminates unclear rules that have resulted in different legal interpretations and enforcement practices in the individual Member States, thus providing more legal clarity across the EU.

The regulations regarding access to the market and the profession (EC) Nos. 1071/2009 and 1072/2009 will not become directly applicable until 18 months after their entry into force, whereas most of the new regulations in the area of social legislation will become effective on 20 August 2020. For this reason, we are providing an overview below of the major changes that will become effective from this day:

Prohibition to spend the regular weekly rest period in the vehicle

  • Article 8 of Regulation (EG) No. 561/2006 has been reformed to state explicitly and unambiguously that the weekly rest period must not be spent in the vehicle. Previously, this prohibition had not been explicitly regulated in the legal text, but had rather been implied by the rules of Article 8, thus creating an undesirable scope for interpretation. The ECJ had already confirmed the prohibition in 2017. With the new regulations, there is no longer any doubt that the regular weekly rest periods and every other rest period of more than 45 hours, which is taken to compensate a previously shortened weekly rest period, must not be spent in the vehicle or on parking areas. Rather, these rest periods are to be spent in appropriate and gender-sensitive accommodation with adequate sleeping and sanitary facilities, unless the driver returns to his/her place of residence. The costs of such accommodation are to be borne by the employer.

Possibility for drivers to return to their place of residence or the company’s permanent establishment on a regular basis

  • Transport operators must now plan and organise the work of their drivers in such way that they can return to their place of residence or the company’s permanent establishment located in the Member State of establishment to which they are normally assigned at least once in each four-week period in order to take a weekly rest period of at least 45 hours. The company must document how it fulfils this obligation, keep the relevant documents on its premises and submit them to the competent inspection authorities upon request. It is an organisational obligation addressed at the companies. This obligation of the companies does not affect the free will of drivers. Drivers cannot exempt the company from the organisational obligation (for example by written declaration).
  • The obligation for vehicles under the rules on access to the profession (Regulation (EG) No. 1071/2009) to return at regular intervals, starting in 2021, must be strictly separated from this organisational obligation of the companies. Companies must ensure that vehicles available to them and used for international transport return to one of their operating centres in that Member State no later than eight weeks after leaving the Member State.

Possibility of shortening the weekly rest periods in cross-border freight traffic

  • Drivers engaged in international freight transport will be allowed to take two consecutive reduced weekly rest periods outside the Member State in which their company is established. However, this is subject to the condition that the driver takes at least four weekly rest periods in four consecutive weeks, two of which must be regular weekly rest periods. If two reduced weekly rest periods were taken consecutively, the next rest period must be taken - as a compensation for these two reduced weekly rest periods - before the subsequent weekly rest period.

Secure parking areas

  • Improving the safety of parking spaces is also part of the Mobility Package Part I. It obliges the European Commission to ensure that professional drivers in road freight and passenger transport have easy access to information on safe and secure parking spaces. To this end, the European Commission will publish a list of certified parking spaces with the following features:

    • detection and prevention of unauthorised intrusion;
    • appropriate lighting and visibility;
    • emergency contact point;
    • gender-sensitive sanitation facilities and opportunities to purchase food and drinks;
    • communication links and an adequate power supply.

The corresponding list of these parking areas is to be published on an official website of the European Commission and updated regularly.

Exceeding the daily or weekly driving time in exceptional cases

  • With the first part of the Mobility Package, the EU legislation also intends to take account of the fact that there may be unforeseen situations in which drivers are unable to reach the place where they plan to take their weekly rest period in accordance with the maximum daily or weekly driving time required by law. Drivers may therefore exceed the daily and weekly driving time by up to one hour in order to reach their employer’s operating centre or their own place of residence in order to take a regular weekly rest period there.

  • In exceptional cases, drivers may extend their driving time by two hours if, prior to the above-mentioned additional driving time resulting from unforeseeable situations, they have taken a continuous break of 30 minutes. This only applies on condition that they drive to their employer’s premises or their own place of residence in order to take a regular weekly rest period there.

  • All driving time extensions are compensated by equivalent rest breaks and are subject to documentation requirements.

Important: When applying these derogations, it must be ensured that road safety is not compromised at any time;

Inclusion of light commercial vehicles in the scope of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006

  • The rules now in force also provide that small commercial vehicles whose maximum authorised weight including trailers or semi-trailers exceeds 2.5 tonnes and which are used for international freight or cabotage operations are also included in the scope of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 on driving times and rest periods from 2026.

Smart tachograph of the second generation

  • The Mobility Package Part I will also set the course for the future use of the second generation of smart tachographs. The introduction of the second generation of smart tachographs, which will also record border crossings and places of loading and unloading in the future, is intended to increase road safety, among other things by more precise positioning, and improve the monitoring of compliance with binding social standards (driving times and rest periods, working time regulations, law on the posting of workers) and market access regulations.

    For the implementation of the second generation of the smart tachograph, the Mobility Package Part I stipulates that the European Commission will present technical specifications by August 2021, which will then have to be implemented by the tachograph manufacturers. The work on this has already begun “behind the scenes”.

  • The second generation of smart tachographs will be implemented gradually:

    • New vehicles are to be equipped from late summer 2023;
    • Vehicles with analogue or digital tachographs are to be equipped with the second version of the smart tachograph by winter 2024;
    • Vehicles with a first version of the smart tachograph are to be equipped with the second version by autumn 2025.