Lithuania and some other Central and Eastern European countries consider to turn to the Court of Justice of the European Union over the EU’s proposed Mobility Package, saying it will push hauler companies in peripheral countries out of business.
The Mobility Package, which is awaiting a vote in the European Parliament, requires, among other things, that trucks return to their country of registration at least every eight weeks.
Lithuania’s Transport Minister Jaroslav Narkevič has confirmed to BNS that preparatory work is underway to lodge the complaint with the CJEU.
“We are not only seriously considering this option but have already started preparatory work and we are looking into the scope of our complaint,” the minister said in a comment sent to BNS.
“I believe that the court’s clarification will help defend the interests of Lithuania and our haulers. It will also be beneficial for whole Europe as the provisions of the Mobility Package not only violate the principles of the common market but also run against the major environmental ambition.”
Reuters news agency was the first to report about the Eastern European initiative last week.
Most EU member states backed the Mobility Package, which will introduce restrictions on hauler companies, back in December. A vote is still due in the European Parliament.
The vote date has not been set yet and it should take place “no earlier than May”, according to BNS sources in the European Parliament.
Simonas Šatūnas, a deputy of Lithuania’s permanent representative to the EU, says the final decision whether to go to court will probably be made after the EP vote.
“Yes, there are active discussions on that in Brussels. The final collective decisions will probably be made after the European Parliament finally adopts this package,” he said.
BNS sources say another eight countries also oppose the new rules: Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Cyprus and Malta. The number, however, is insufficient to block the Mobility Package.
Businesses and governments of Lithuania and other peripheral countries say Western European haulers want to push them out of the market with the tightened rules. Critics also argue that the mandatory return of truck will increase road pollution and impede fight against climate change.
The authors of the new rules, however, say the mandatory return of truck will help to fight against the registration of fake hauler companies when businesses are registered in one country to reduce costs, while activities are done elsewhere.
Western Europeans say the new rules are aimed at preventing unfair competition with cheap labour force from Eastern Europe and lower taxes, and it will also improve employees situation.
Once the new rules come into force, member states will have 18 months to transpose it into national law.
The European Commission should also carry out an environmental impact assessment.
“We are grateful to the European Commission for hearing our concerns, as it promised in December, to assess the impact of the requirement to return trucks on the functioning of the EU internal market,” Šatūnas said.
Lithuania’s national road carriers’ association, LINAVA, argues that the country’s transport sector will incur huge losses that will mostly affect small enterprises. LINAVA also claims that almost 35,000 jobs are on the line.