Procedure : 2015/2349(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A8-0304/2016

Texts tabled :

A8-0304/2016

Debates :

PV 23/11/2016 - 19
CRE 23/11/2016 - 19

Votes :

PV 24/11/2016 - 8.12
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2016)0455

REPORT     
PDF 543kWORD 84k
7.11.2016
PE 580.785v01-00 A8-0304/2016

on new opportunities for small transport businesses, including collaborative business models

(2015/2349(INI))

Committee on Transport and Tourism

Rapporteur: Dominique Riquet

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 OPINION of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs
 RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on new opportunities for small transport businesses, including collaborative business models (2015/2349(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on European Union, and in particular Article 5(3) thereof,

–  having regard to Protocol No 2 to the Treaty on European Union on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality,

–  having regard to the Commission White Paper entitled ‘Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system’ (COM(2011)0144),

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 September 2015 on ‘The implementation of the 2011 White Paper on Transport: taking stock and the way forward towards sustainable mobility’(1),

–  having regard to EU Recommendation 2003/361/EC concerning the definition of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises,

–  having regard to the Annual Report on European SMEs 2014/2015,

–  having regard to the Commission communications entitled ‘“Think Small First” – A “Small Business Act” for Europe’ (COM(2008)0394) and ‘Review of the “Small Business Act” for Europe’ (COM(2011)0078),

–  having regard to the Commission communication ‘A European agenda for the collaborative economy’ (COM(2016)0356),

–  having regard to the Commission communication on ‘A European strategy for low-emission mobility’ (COM)(2016)0501),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 February 2013 on improving access to finance for SMEs(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 19 May 2015 on green growth opportunities for SMEs(3),

–  having regard to Horizon 2020’s SME Instrument and INNOSUP, COSME, Your Europe Business, Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) Pilot and networking opportunities,

–  having regard to the e-commerce directive (2000/31/EC) and the services directive (2006/123/EC),

–  having regard to the Commission communication ‘A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe’ (COM(2015)0192),

–  having regard to the Commission communication ‘Upgrading the Single Market: more opportunities for people and business’ (COM(2015)0550),

–  having regard to the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) established by Regulation (EU) No 1316/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013(4),

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Transport and Tourism and the opinion of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (A8-0304/2016),

A.  whereas small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the main engine of the European economy, representing, on 2014 figures, 99.8 % of all undertakings outside the financial sector and accounting for two out of three of all jobs;

B.  whereas the SMEs that have generated jobs in recent years have mainly come from the tertiary sector;

C.  whereas small transport undertakings play a crucial role in the proper functioning of mobility in Europe, but often encounter difficulties in accessing or maintaining their place within the market, notably due to the presence of monopolies on that market;

D.  whereas small undertakings provide added value particularly in remote and densely-populated areas, thanks to their excellent knowledge of the local market, their proximity to the customer and/or their agility and ability to innovate; whereas, moreover, they are able to provide tailored services and are instruments for combating social exclusion, creating jobs, generating economic activity, improving mobility management and contributing to the development of tourism (where mobility services are directly linked to visitor demand for new products and experiences);

E.  whereas for passengers and goods, both demand for transport services and the conditions applicable to their provision vary considerably, and whereas reducing mobility is not an option;

F.  whereas the organisation of transport in big cities and on the roads leading to them causes congestion and traffic jams, creating a significant burden on the economy; whereas SMEs in the transport sector are an important complement to the public transport network in urban nodes, particularly at times of day when public transport is very infrequent, as well as in peripheral areas without a properly developed suburban transport service;

G.  whereas a recent study by the Commission shows that 17 % of European consumers have used services provided by the sharing economy, and 52 % are aware of the services offered; whereas consumer expectations seek easily accessible and flexible ways to use transport services while prices are maintained in line with the actual costs of provision as well as easy access to reservations and secure payment for services provided;

H  whereas a collaborative economy in the transport sector can actively promote the development of sustainable forms of mobility; whereas self-regulation is not always the solution and a suitable regulatory framework is necessary;

I.  whereas the imperative of sustainable development and the revolution in the field of information and communication technology have created unprecedented opportunities and challenges for firms of all sizes in terms of responding to the increasing demand for sustainable mobility within the constraints of limited infrastructure;

J.  whereas the exponential growth in the penetration of smart mobile devices as well the comprehensive coverage of high-speed wide-band network have created new digital tools for both transport service providers and customers, reducing transaction costs and also diminishing the significance of the physical location of the service providers, allowing them to be widely connected in order to provide services, not only regionally but also globally, via digital networks and also from remote areas;

K.  whereas technological advances, new business models and digitalisation have transformed the transport sector significantly in recent years, with major impacts on traditional business models as well as on working conditions and employment in the sector; whereas while on the one hand the transport sector has opened up, on the other hand working conditions have in many cases worsened, owing to the economic crisis and, in some cases, to insufficient implementation of existing regulations;

L.  whereas the transport sector comprises not only direct transport service providers, but also SMEs offering services such as maintenance of means of transport, sale of spare parts, training of staff, and rental of vehicles and equipment; whereas there is an enormous potential for job creation linked to these activities, including employment for highly qualified workers; whereas policies for the transport sector should take the interests of the entire value chain into account;

M.  whereas only 1.7 % of enterprises in the EU make full use of advanced digital technologies, while 41 % do not use them at all; whereas the digitalisation of all sectors is crucial if the EU’s competitiveness is to be maintained and improved;

N.  whereas the flexibility and ease of entry inherent in the collaborative economy can provide employment opportunities for groups traditionally excluded from the labour market, in particular women, young people and migrants;

O.  whereas transport services can provide a good way of becoming self-employed and promote a culture of entrepreneurship;

P.  whereas online platforms for transport services can offer the possibility of a swift match between service requests by customers, on the one hand, and labour supply by registered companies or workers, on the other;

Q.  whereas the OECD considers good-quality jobs to be an essential factor in efforts to tackle high levels of inequality and promote social cohesion;

I.  Challenges to small transport businesses

1.  Takes the view that transport businesses face considerable challenges in order to respond to the increasing demand for mobility within the constraints of limited infrastructure and increasing environmental requirements; points out that all transport undertakings are under pressure to provide safe, sustainable and highly competitive solutions that are environmentally responsible under COP21, while limiting congestion, but that it is harder and more expensive for small businesses to meet these challenges;

2.  Stresses that changing vehicle emission standards too frequently can prove particularly problematic for smaller transport companies in view of the depreciation periods for fleets of vehicles;

3.  Stresses the complex nature of the transport sector, which is characterised by multi-level (local, national, European and global) governance still largely compartmentalised by mode of transport; notes that this sector is subject to heavy regulation, particularly regarding access to the profession, activities concerned and the development, use and marketing of transport services (exclusive rights, capping of the number of licenses), as well as subsidisation; stresses that safety and security are of paramount importance for the transport sector, but deplores the fact that they are, among other factors, sometimes used as a pretext to erect artificial barriers;

4.  Calls on the Member States to put an end to over-regulation, which is often linked to protectionist and corporatist instincts that give rise to fragmentation, complexity and rigidity within the internal market, thus increasing inequality; believes it is useful for Member States not to approach the legality of online platforms in a plethora of ways, and hence to avert unwarranted restrictive unilateral measures; calls on the Member States to comply with, and fully implement, the Electronic Commerce Directive (Directive 2000/31/EC) and the Services Directive (Directive 2006/123/EC); maintains that the free movement of service providers and freedom of establishment, as provided for in Articles 56 and 49 TFEU respectively, are essential in order to realise the European dimension of services and hence of the internal market;

5.  Stresses that because of the current legal uncertainty as to the definition of ‘service providers’ in the transport sector, it is not possible to establish fair competition, and regrets the difficulties experienced by many small businesses in accessing the domestic and international market and developing or offering new services; stresses the fact that the above hamper the access of SMEs to this sector;

6.  Takes the view that European Parliament and Council Regulation (EC) No 1072/2009 needs to be improved in order to overcome the serious disruption that occurred on national transport markets in several Member States after it was introduced;

7.  Welcomes the new opportunities afforded by small transport businesses and new collaborative business models, while at the same time deploring anti-competitive practices resulting from the uneven application of EU rules across Member States, in particular as regards pay and social security systems, which may lead to serious distortions such as social dumping, as well as security challenges;

8.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to step up law enforcement; considers that any change to the legislation concerning social and working conditions must respect all EU fundamental freedoms, must not restrict fair competition based on objective competitive advantages, and must not create any further administrative burdens or additional costs for small transport businesses;

9.  Notes that small transport businesses need to invest, not only to comply with the law but also to remain competitive (e.g. by focusing on new technologies); deplores the fact that, on the one hand and in contrast to what happens with large companies, these businesses’ access to credit and funding on the money markets remains limited in spite of quantitative easing measures, while, on the other hand, aid from the public purse, particularly at European level, is rarely forthcoming, owing to overly complex and long-winded administrative procedures; stresses the importance of providing knowledge dissemination and assistance for small business applicants within the framework of the European Investment Fund;

10.  Notes that, in a context of growing urbanisation, transport needs to be organised in more increasingly integrated, digitalised and multimodal way, and that urban nodes increasingly have a central role to play in the organisation of sustainable mobility; stresses the growing impact of multimodal travel planning applications and the importance for small businesses of being included on the list of available applications and portfolios of transport services; highlights the fact that universal internet access would encourage transport sharing and improved travel planning;

11.  Notes that in response to economic difficulties and the lack of resources with which to maintain the capillary transport network, numerous branch lines are closing in many regions, especially those most cut-off and most sparsely populated; takes the view that the advent of collaborative business models can in no way justify abandoning public transport services in these regions;

12.  Stresses the importance for urban mobility of rental services for light vehicles, such as bicycles or scooters; notes that a large majority of such operators are SMEs; calls for the potential of these operators to be more frequently taken into account in the process of increasing the level of urban mobility and developing energy-efficient and resource-efficient urban transport;

13.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to consider the pooling of small transport companies, which would facilitate the development of partnership between such companies and help customers locate the desired small transport company services according to their needs;

14.  Calls on the Commission, when setting guidelines in this area, to take account of the difficulties new collaborative businesses models have in penetrating rural and non-urban environments;

15.  Notes that the development of collaborative business models can optimise vehicle and infrastructure use, thus helping to meet the demand for mobility in a more sustainable fashion; notes that the growing exploitation of user-generated data could eventually result in added value being created in the transport chain; stresses, however, that a concentration of data in the hands of only few intermediation platforms could have an adverse effect both on the fair distribution of income and on balanced participation in infrastructure investment and in other relevant costs, all of which has a direct impact on SMEs;

16.  Welcomes the fact that intermediation platforms have brought into play the idea of challenging each other, the existing operators and the corporatist structures, and of undermining existing monopolies and preventing new ones; underlines that this is encouraging a market that is much more focused on consumer demand and is leading Member States to review the structure of the market; notes, however, that unless there is an appropriate and clear legal framework intermediation platforms, with their ‘winner takes all’ ethos, will create dominant market positions harming the diversity of the economic fabric;

17.  Draws attention to the opportunities and challenges (e.g. small businesses could also emerge in these new fields) arising from the development of connected and self-driving vehicles (cars, ships, drones and platooning); urges the Commission, therefore, to come up with a roadmap on connected and automated vehicles, and to analyse the potential effects that widespread use of this technology could have on the European transport sector, especially on SME;

II.  Recommendations: how to transform the challenges into opportunities

18.  Calls for efforts to be pursued with a view to completing the single European transport area; takes the view that any legislation which imposes new requirements on small businesses, particularly tax-related, social and environmental measures, should be proportionate, simple and clear, not hampering their development and reflecting where necessary regional and national characteristics in different Member States; takes the view that such legislation must be accompanied by the necessary (regulatory and/or financial) incentives;

19.  Considers that fostering an integrated and coordinated European mobility system is the best way of properly integrating all companies offering all modes of transport into a common dynamic process in which digitisation and promoting innovation from within the transport sector is most effective method of ensuring that customers have a single coherent system and that professionals are best placed to add value;

20.  Notes that services provided by SMEs in the transport sector are not always sufficiently tailored to the needs of disabled people and the elderly; calls for all tools and programmes aimed at supporting these operators to take into account the need to adapt transport services as far as possible to the needs of people with reduced mobility;

21.  Notes that, in view of the lack of investment in infrastructure, all operators benefiting from the use of that infrastructure should contribute, taking full account of all existing transport taxes, charges and negative environmental and health impacts; stresses the importance in the case of road transport of internalising negative externalities and earmarking revenues for the use of transport infrastructure, including cross-border; recognises, nevertheless, that this might pose specific problems for small businesses, including those in the outermost regions, which must be taken into account as a priority;

22.  Recalls that the EFSI was established in order to contribute to highly innovative market-based projects, and therefore sees it as an essential instrument to help SMEs in the transport sector develop new mobility solutions; calls on the Commission and the Member States to speed up its implementation and to increase assistance to SMEs and start-ups when preparing such projects;

23.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to take appropriate action to combat anti-competitive practices by large integrated groups in order to tackle discrimination and market access restrictions, regardless of size or type of enterprise, especially regarding new business models; urges for dialogue and improved relations, especially in new and potential markets, between carriers and ordering parties, as well as a solution to the problem of bogus self-employed persons;

24.  Calls for SMEs to be included in the plans for European integrated ticketing; notes that the effectiveness of such a system will depend on including as many transport service undertakings and operators as possible; notes that the exchange of information and experience between large operators and SMEs can produce highly beneficial synergies for designing an effective transport network in Europe;

25.  Calls, with a view to greater transparency, for the review and harmonisation of the rules on access to regulated occupations and activities in Europe and of checks on those occupations, so as to enable new operators and services linked to digital platforms and the collaborative economy to develop in a business-friendly environment, including greater transparency with regard to legislative changes, and to coexist with incumbent operators within an environment of healthy competition; notes the positive effects of sharing economy operators in terms of creating new jobs for young people entering the labour market and self-employed workers;

26.  Calls on the Commission to publish, without further delay, a roadmap for freeing up data on public-funded transport and introducing harmonised standards for transport data and programming interfaces, in order to boost data-intensive innovations and the provision of new transport services;

27.  Takes the view, given the development of the collaborative economy, that the solution is neither sector-specific regulation nor regulation aimed solely at platforms, and that in future the mobility system needs to be addressed as a whole; calls for the establishment of a modernised multimodal regulatory framework that fosters innovation and competitiveness as well as the protection of consumers and their data, safeguarding workers’ rights and ensuring a level playing field for different operators; draws attention, with this in mind, to the importance of interoperability in the transport sector, given that it offers small businesses single solutions;

28.  Calls on the Member States to assess the need to bring their national labour law up to date with the digital age, taking into account the features of collaborative economy models and each country’s individual labour laws;

29.  Considers that this objective requires a convergence of models which is based on a clear, consistent and non-overlapping definition of ‘intermediaries’ and ‘service providers’; calls for a distinction to be made between those intermediation platforms which generate no profits for their users and those which connect a service provider (for-profit) and a customer, with or without an employer-employee relationship between service provider and platform; suggests that, in order to facilitate compliance by all parties with their tax and social security obligations, as well as to guarantee that service providers using the platforms are competent and duly qualified (so as to ensure consumer protection), national authorities should be enabled to ask for the information they deem necessary from the intermediation platforms; stresses that already existing feedback and rating systems also help intermediaries to build a relationship of trust with consumers, and that the data generated should be processed in accordance with Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council;

30.  Believes that the high transparency potential of the collaborative economy allows for good traceability of transport service operations, in line with the aim of enforcing existing legislation; calls on the Commission to publish guidelines on how EU law applies to the various types of collaborative business models, in order to fill, where necessary, regulatory gaps in the area of employment and social security in a manner that respects national competences;

31.  Stresses that transport undertakings also include operators not directly providing transport services, such as training providers, vehicle rental companies, workshops and service centres; notes that a large majority of such operators are SMEs; calls for the needs of these operators to be taken into account in the design of legal measures and investment programmes aimed at supporting the development of SMEs;

32.  Encourages the Commission to support SMEs in the transport sector in forming clusters in this field, which can be joined by both consumers and other stakeholders;

33.  Notes that most providers in the collaborative economy come from outside the EU; considers that the EU needs to develop more innovative start-ups in the transport sector, and encourages increased support for such companies, particularly for training young entrepreneurs in this field;

34.  Regrets that the Member States’ response to the development of collaborative business models has so far been very fragmented and in some cases entirely inconsistent with the potential and benefits of the development of this sector, as well as contrary to consumer expectations, and considers that a coordinated overall European-level action, covering issues for a sustainable collaborative business model, is desirable; notes the Commission’s reasonable approach to this ‘new business model’, as set out in its recent communication emphasising the importance of the collaborative economy for future growth(5);

35.  Notes the huge potential of new technologies for the emergence of new forms of service provision in the goods transport sector; stresses, in particular, the enormous opportunities offered by drones, which are already a highly effective tool for working in difficult conditions; stresses that the EU should support the potential of SMEs involved in the design, production and use of drones;

36.  Believes that collaborative business models constitute a major resource for the sustainable development of connections in outlying, mountainous and rural regions, and also offer indirect benefits for the tourism sector;

37.  Is of the opinion that legislative requirements should be proportionate to the nature of the business and size of the company; however, raises concerns about whether there continue to be grounds for exempting light commercial vehicles (LCVs) from application of a number of European rules, given the increasing use of LCVs in the international transport of goods, and asks the Commission to present a diagnostic report on the consequent economic, environmental and safety impact;

38.  Calls for the establishment of cooperation structures between small transport businesses, scientific research institutes and local and regional authorities, with a view to improving the organisation of sustainable urban and interurban mobility so as to respond effectively to the emergence of new services and products, including those offered by SMEs (e.g. the first and last stages of door-to-door transport service), while better aligning the existing public transport networks to the needs and expectations of passengers; calls for the inclusion of information on mobility services provided by small businesses in travel information and planning services;

39.  Calls for the setting-up of innovation task forces, to give full effect to the ‘shareable cities’ concept and help local, regional and national institutions respond effectively to the emergence of new services and products;

40.  Stresses the importance of focused training (e.g. concerning big data, integrated services, etc.) in order to help transport companies generate added value from the digital sphere; calls, therefore, for the adaptation of the way in which professionals are trained, in line with the skills and qualifications required by new business models, in particular so as to meet shortages of staff, especially of drivers;

41.  Highlights that SMEs in the transport sector often refrain from expansion because of the increased risks that are involved in cross-border business thanks to the divergence between legal systems in different (Member) States; calls on the Commission, in cooperation with national, regional and local authorities in the Member States, to develop cooperation and communication platforms in order to advise and train SMEs with regard to different funding schemes, grants and internationalisation; asks the Commission to further exploit the existing support programmes for SMEs and to give them more visibility among transport sector actors, in the context of synergies between different EU funds;

42.  Encourages local authorities to make an active commitment on the urban transport decarbonisation principles set out in the White Paper on transport, and urges market players to operate within the new competition and activity framework thereby benefiting from the competitive advantages of offering zero-emissions services and the progressive digitisation of their management, operations and marketing structures;

43.  Calls on the Commission, the Member States and local authorities to promote innovations in the sharing economy, which will themselves be facilitated by the emergence of collaborative business models, e.g. car sharing, bicycle sharing, shared cargo transport, shared taxis, car-pooling, and buses on demand, and the interconnection of these modes of transport with public transport;

44.  Calls on the Commission, by means of enhanced cooperation among its DGs, to closely monitor the development of the digital economy and the impact of the ‘Digital Agenda’ legislative initiatives on the transport sector;

45.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States, in cooperation with the social partners, to assess on a regular basis the impact of digitalisation on the number and types of jobs in the transport sector, and to ensure that employment and social policies keep pace with the digitalisation of the transport labour market;

46.  Recommends that collaborative economy businesses, as well as people working in the transport sector, find models for working together in pursuing shared interests, such as in the area of insurance;

47.  Welcomes the flexible working time models negotiated by the social partners in the transport sector that enable workers better to reconcile work and private life; stresses, however, the importance of monitoring compliance with mandatory rules on working hours and of driving and rest times, which should become easier as a result of the digitalisation of the transport sector;

48.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0310.

(2)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0036.

(3)

Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0198.

(4)

OJ L 348, 20.12.2013, p. 129.

(5)

COM(2016)0356


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

In the absence of relevant statistics, it is hard to pin down the reality of small transport undertakings in Europe. While it is clearly true that their significance varies from one mode of transport to another (being strongly represented in road, river and marine transport, somewhat less so in railways and aviation), there is no way of determining precisely how many there are, what proportion of jobs they account for, or their share in the wealth created in the EU.

By ‘transport undertakings’ the rapporteur means businesses which provide transport services, whether for passengers or goods. The transport industry and related services therefore fall outside the scope of this report.

Small transport undertakings are particularly hard to evaluate because they have such varied profiles depending on the mode of transport, country, type of service provided and the competition structure of the market in which they operate. There are family businesses, SMEs, micro-businesses, craft trades and start-ups. As they all fall to a greater or lesser extent within the interstices of the mobility system, they each require a differentiated approach. SMEs, for example, which also form an administrative category benefiting from a number of types of aid, operate in a well-defined market segment, are often dependent on large businesses, and do not necessarily aim for exponential growth. Start-ups, on the other hand (for which it has proved impossible to find an administrative definition), mostly create their own market by exploiting an idea, show greater flexibility and often possess the potential to expand internationally.

However, all these businesses play a crucial role in the transport of passengers and goods, by oiling the wheels of mobility which has historically been structured by the ‘big boys’. Thanks to their more detailed knowledge of the local market, greater proximity to the customer and/or in many cases agility and ability to innovate, small businesses improve transport for individual passengers, particularly over the ‘last mile’ in densely populated areas. Similarly, in remote areas where it would be too costly to build a rail infrastructure or organise public transport, private cars are often the only means of transport possible for some sectors of the population.

Small transport undertakings are thus intrinsic to European mobility. They are full of talents which need a favourable environment in which to burgeon. This is where the legislator can and should do its job by creating the most favourable regulatory, social and fiscal environment possible. This would enable small transport undertakings to turn the many challenges currently facing them into opportunities, first and foremost the ITC revolution.

The scale of the transport sector’s need for information and communication has of course made this sector a fertile ground for the digital economy and more still for intermediation platforms. New technology, which has become accessible to small businesses, is doing a lot to modernise the mobility economy (optimising vehicle use, reducing costs, reducing congestion and simplifying the supplier/customer relationship). These platforms, particularly those linked to collaborative business models, while they optimise the coordination of supply with demand, are causing a major upheaval. This goes beyond mere performance gains: it changes the whole way in which mobility is organised, by challenging established players and leading to the emergence of a self-governing system of ‘prosumers’ (French ‘consommacteurs’), in which the employer-employee relationship is called into question. By taking control of both ends of the chain – a knowledge of customers’ needs combined with an ability to supply what is needed at the right time – new players from the digital world have managed to seize some of the chain’s added value, thus raising issues about investment in the infrastructure they are using, which is in turn supported by public and private players in the non-virtual economy.

The first challenge for small businesses is how to take advantage of this digital transition. Whether or not they are active players in it, they must adapt or decline.

Secondly, there has never been a better time to develop sustainable solutions which will make it possible, in spite of the limited capacity of transport infrastructures, to meet the growing needs of mobility in an environmentally responsible way. With this in mind, let us not forget that while overall emissions have fallen over the last ten years in other sectors of the European economy, transport emissions are still on the rise. Transport now accounts for around a quarter of total EU emissions. The 21st Conference of Parties on combating climate change merely confirmed that there is an urgent need for the transport sector to play its part in the transition towards a decarbonised economy. In 2050, which is just round the corner, 80% of the population will live in towns. As a result, urban mobility will become even more of a vital issue, with a need to organise travel in a multi-modal, clean and integrated manner. Here too, the legislator’s role will be to create a framework that gives an incentive to this green transition. In other words, we need to make sustainable transport a more profitable investment.

We should be aware that, while all businesses are subject to this imperative, smaller structures often have to work much harder to achieve what is required.

Paradoxically, while in theory the legislative framework should create the best possible conditions for dealing with these trends, it is often part of the problem, particularly in a sector like transport which is heavily regulated at a number of levels – local, regional, national, European and global.

Today, owing to differences in the application of the law and its misuse in practice, economic and social distortions of the market remain the order of the day, while small businesses suffer disproportionately from the lack of a genuine single European transport area. Access to occupations in the transport sector varies considerably from one country to another, and residents and non-residents are not always treated equally. While safety is an indispensable requirement in any transport activity, it is often used as a way of creating barriers to access to the market. In other words, we need more Europe in this area too.

Faced with the arrival of new entrants on the market, legal uncertainty about the definition of ‘transport service provider’ is preventing the establishment of fair competition and is holding back the ambitions of many small businesses. While ‘worker’ has been defined in a Commission communication (COM(2002)694 final) as a person who undertakes genuine and effective work under the direction of someone else for which he is paid, there is less clarity about the definition of ‘self-employed person’. On the other hand, the cumbersome nature of the current legislation may make it difficult for existing transport operators to deal with the arrival of new entrants.

It should be added that the various public subsidies available for small businesses, on both national and European level, are not always easy to access, and the time limits are ill-adapted to innovation cycles. Europe should pay more attention to small players.

In the light of the above, the rapporteur has made a number of proposals seeking to transform these many challenges into opportunities for small businesses:

  speeding up efforts to complete the single European transport area, putting an end to disparities in the application of the law (reviewing the exemption for commercial vehicles, combating anti-competitive practices, harmonising access to and inspection of the profession);

  encouraging convergence between the traditional economy and intermediation platforms, including collaborative business models, so as to promote innovation, protect consumers and fair competition (a framework whereby all businesses contribute to the social cost of transport and to investment in infrastructure);

  organising better coordination between local authorities and small transport businesses in order to improve urban mobility, which will be totally decarbonised in the very near future.

Annex I. Questionnaire sent out to help in drawing up the report

Own-initiative report of the European Parliament on

‘New opportunities for small transport businesses, including collaborative business models’

CONSULTATION

‘In November 2015, the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism decided to draw up an own-initiative report on new opportunities for small transport businesses, including collaborative business models. Dear businesspeople and operators in the mobility sector, as rapporteur on this topic I should like to invite you to submit your suggestions on how your businesses can best be enabled to address the issues facing them.’

Dominique Riquet (ALDE-UDI)

Member of the European Parliament

Vice-Chair of the Committee on Transport and Tourism

Member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy

Chair of the Long-Term Investment and Reindustrialisation Intergroup

INFORMATION

The purpose of this own-initiative report is to identify the challenges currently encountered by small businesses in the transport field in Europe. On the basis of these findings, solutions will be proposed with a view to reinforcing our competitiveness while ensuring the coherent and sustainable development of the transport system as a whole, together with fair rules for all players. The report, which seeks to influence the way in which legislators address these issues, will confine itself to SMEs and start-ups connected to mobility as a service (whether for passengers or goods). This consultation does not directly concern the transport industry and infrastructures.

The final version of the report should be adopted in September 2016, and an initial draft will be prepared for the beginning of April for consideration by the committee responsible a little later in the month. Accordingly, the deadline submitting for your contributions is 29 February (this being a leap year). Contributions and requests for clarification should be sent to: dominique.riquet@europarl.europa.eu.

Your contributions will help us draw up the report, but their content will not be made public. However, for reasons of transparency, the names of contributors will be listed at the end of the report.

To help you structure your answers, please find below a list of suggested questions. If there is something you would like to share with us which is not adequately covered by these questions, please do not hesitate to add your contribution.

Brussels, 29 January 2016

QUESTIONS

1)  What are the main challenges facing your business today?

2)  To what extent have you digitalised your procedures? How much of your business activity is based on or depends on ICT? What role is played by ‘big data’ in your activities?

3)  How do you take account of the objective of sustainable development? And of recent demographic trends? (in particular ageing and urbanisation of the population)

4)  Do you try to internationalise your services, and what problems do you encounter when doing so? Do ‘emergent’ countries represent a growth opportunity for your business?

5)  In what mode of transport do you mainly operate? To what extent do you consider that this mode of transport is too rigid to permit access to and survival in the relevant market?

6)  Do you feel that businesspeople are well regarded / treated in Europe?

7)  How do you finance your business (subsidies, loans, loan guarantees, external participation, etc.)? Are you aware of the various European programmes designed to support SMEs and start-ups? Do you use them, and if so, why?

8)  If you are a start-up, did you feel you were given sufficient assistance at the various states of your development?

9)  If you use a collaborative business model:

-  how did the public authorities react to your arrival on the market? What is your relationship with businesses in the ‘traditional economy’?

-  taxation, social rights and social security are among your main concerns: what is your reaction and what would be your recommendations?

10)  Would you say that the legal environment in which you are developing is satisfactory? (stable over time, harmonised between (European) countries, clear, reflecting real circumstances, complete)

11)  Do the problems you have mentioned call for new or better legislation? for better application of the existing legislation? for less legislation? and at what level? (local, national or European)

12)  What is your vision of mobility in five, ten or 20 years’ time? Are you optimistic about the future of your business?

ABOUT YOU

-  Name and company name of your business:

-  Main country of establishment and country in which you operate:

-  Number of employees / service providers on whom you call to achieve your business objectives:

-  Type of service supplied;

-  Stage of development

-  Turnover and estimated value:

-  Contact details (email and phone) and website / profile on social media / app:

Annex II. List of parties the rapporteur has contacted

- Allied for Startups

- Avatar Logistics

- BlablaCar

- Captain Train

- Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (France)

- Chambers of Trades and Crafts (APCMA) (France)

- European Commission

- Drivr

- European Road Haulers Association (UETR)

- National Federation of Road Transport (FNTR) (France)

- France Digitale

- Heetch

- Inland Navigation Europe (INE)

- LEO Express

- Mouvement des Entreprises de France (Medef)

Taxis Bleus (Belgium and France)

- G7 Taxis (France)

- Uber

- International Association of Public Transport (UITP)

Annex III. List of associated experts

- Carlo Cambini, Politecnico di Torino, Associate Professor

- Matthias Finger, Professor, Director of FSR-Transport and Chair of Management of Network Industries, EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne)

- Gabriele Grea, Università Commerciale L. Bocconi (Milan, Italy), Professor

- Sampo Hietanen, CEO of Maas Finland

- Juan José Montero Pascual, UNED Madrid, Associate Professor


OPINION of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (29.9.2016)

for the Committee on Transport and Tourism

on new opportunities for small transport businesses, including collaborative business models

(2015/2349(INI))

Rapporteur: Elena Gentile

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Employment and Social Affairs calls on the Committee on Transport and Tourism, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

A.  whereas technological advances, new business models and digitalisation have transformed the transport sector significantly in recent years, with major impacts on traditional business models as well as on working conditions and employment in the sector; whereas while, on the one hand, the transport sector has opened up, on the other hand, working conditions have in many cases worsened, owing to the economic crisis and, in some cases, to insufficient implementation of existing regulations;

B.  whereas the transport sector comprises not only direct transport service providers, but also SMEs offering services such as maintenance of transport means, sale of spare parts, training of staff, and rental of vehicles and equipment; whereas there is an enormous potential for job creation linked to these activities, including employment for highly qualified workers; whereas policies for the transport sector should take the interest of the entire value chain into account;

C.  whereas the Commission, in its communication entitled ‘A European agenda for the collaborative economy’ (COM 2016/0356), points out that flexible work arrangements in the collaborative economy create uncertainties about the rights and the levels of social protection that are applicable, and that the boundaries between self-employed and workers are becoming increasingly blurred;

D.  whereas only 1.7 % of EU enterprises make full use of advanced digital technologies, while 41 % do not use them at all; whereas the digitalisation of all sectors is crucial if the EU’s competitiveness is to be maintained and improved;

E.  whereas SMEs play a special role in job creation in the transport sector, particularly in road transport, and whereas they are in a weaker position than larger companies in terms of access to finance for essential investments, including loans and support from European funds;

F.  whereas the flexibility and ease of entry inherent in the collaborative economy can provide employment opportunities for groups traditionally excluded from the labour market, in particular women, young people and migrants;

G.  whereas the European sectorial social partners are concerned about the unfair competition on intra-city mobility markets posed by the emergence of ‘ride-sharing for reward’ platforms, often associated with unfair market practices such as avoidance of tax payments and social security contributions, as well as circumvention of employment and social standards;

H.  whereas transport services can provide a good way of becoming self-employed and promote a culture of entrepreneurship;

I.  whereas, according to recent findings, there is a tendency to shift the responsibility for social security payments and employment benefits in the transport sector to subcontractors and self-employed drivers; whereas there is a risk that self-employed drivers are pushed into precarious working conditions, while bogus self-employment expands at the same time(1);

J.  whereas online platforms for transport services can offer the possibility of a swift match between service requests by customers, on the one hand, and labour supply by registered companies or workers, on the other;

K.  whereas the OECD considers good-quality jobs to be an essential factor in efforts to tackle high inequality and promote social cohesion(2);

1.  Stresses the need for a proportionate regulatory and administrative environment that encourages investment and access to finance, while ensuring sustainable growth and decent jobs within small transport businesses;

2.  Notes the emergence of the collaborative economy in the transport sector, with more flexible forms of work; underlines that the collaborative business models in the transport sector should be discussed in the context of a broader debate to create fair and transparent conditions of competition; stresses the importance of a stable legal framework for efforts to promote the development of the collaborative economy;

3.  Notes that the number of part-time workers, agency workers and self-employed persons in the transport sector has increased and that the general trend is towards more flexible employment contracts; notes that the collaborative economy in the transport sector thereby offers new opportunities for people to earn an additional income, for the employment of young people (in particular those seeking casual work and flexible forms of employment allowing them to combine work with study), for the better reconciliation of work and private life, and for the reduction of underemployment and unemployment; points out, however, that, in some circumstances, this development can also lead to precarious situations; stresses that flexible employment must be covered by existing health and safety provisions, as well as by social protection measures, in order to avoid long-term social and financial implications, and must exclude potential risks such as worker overload and pay levels that are not commensurate with performance; highlights, therefore, the need for labour market flexibility, on the one hand, and for economic and social security for workers on the other; stresses that reducing costs should not undermine working conditions or employment standards;

4.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States, in cooperation with the social partners, to assess on a regular basis the impact of digitalisation on the number and types of jobs in the transport sector, and to ensure that employment and social policies keep pace with the digitalisation of the transport labour market;

5.  Notes that the digital sector also encompasses professional services and intermediates offering platforms that only connect providers and users; encourages the Member States to establish minimum thresholds allowing them to differentiate between economic activities involving the provision of professional services and non-professional peer-to-peer activities; stresses that while the former should naturally comply with taxation and social security provisions, the professional use of the latter should also be regulated;

6.  Notes the opportunities provided by the collaborative economy and by the Digital Single Market for job creation and inclusive growth within small transport businesses; stresses that the collaborative economy, like any other economy, must pay tax and social contributions, comply with employment and social legislation, and ensure consumer protection; believes that the high transparency potential of the collaborative economy allows for good traceability of transport service operations, in line with the aim of enforcing existing legislation; calls on the Commission to publish guidelines on how EU law applies to the various types of collaborative business models in order to fill, where necessary, regulatory gaps in the area of employment and social security in a manner that respects national competences; calls on the Member States to carry out sufficient inspections and to impose sanctions where rules have been breached;

7.  Points to the relatively low barriers to beginning a career in the transport sector and to the great potential the sector thereby offers in combating long-term unemployment;

8.  Stresses that all transport service providers, including those in the collaborative economy, need to comply with requisite health and safety provisions and should be bound by existing minimum safety and social security standards, regardless of their business or employment models, whether ‘ride-sharing for reward’ platforms, agency work or any other model;

9.  Calls on the Member States fully to implement and enforce all laws and regulations pertaining to online transport service platforms;

10.  Stresses the importance of monitoring compliance with mandatory rules on working hours, and driving and resting times, in the transport sector; recalls that Regulation (EU) No 165/2014 on tachographs in road transport does not apply to vehicles of less than 3.5 tonnes (light goods vehicles); stresses that, in line with this regulation, monitoring should take place by means of digital monitoring devices installed in vehicles; calls for checks on working and rest times to be stepped up; recalls that all tasks in relation to the activity of an employee are to be considered working time; stresses, likewise, the importance of monitoring compliance with European and national legislation regarding the protection of health and safety at work, including working conditions in vehicles, for all people involved in the transport sector, irrespective of whether their employment status is that of a self-employed, subcontractor, temporary staff member or contract worker;

11.  Welcomes the important role of trade unions, which in many Member States work together with transport service providers in an effort to make the transformation of the transport sector socially sustainable; highlights the importance of strong and independent social partners in the transport sector, of an institutionalised social dialogue at European and national level and of the participation of employees in company matters; encourages the social partners to negotiate collective agreements for all transport services in line with national laws and practices, as such agreements are an effective instrument to ensure decent social and employment standards; encourages SMEs in the sector to establish associations or platforms that support them in this regard and that keep them informed;

12.  Takes note of the ongoing discussions regarding the introduction by certain Member States of minimum wages for transport businesses operating on their territory; notes that Commission President Juncker stated in his opening statement before Parliament that ‘in our Union, the same work at the same place should be remunerated in the same manner’(3);

13.  Recommends that collaborative economy businesses, as well as people working in the transport sector, find models to work together in pursuing shared interests, such as in the area of insurance;

14.  Calls on the Member States to ensure fair competition, decent working conditions and social protection for all transport workers in order to reduce precarious employment in a sector in transition, and to improve the enforcement of existing rules and collective agreements; calls on the Commission and the Member States to fight anti-competitive practices in the transport sector and to exchange best practice in this regard; calls, in particular, on the Member States and the social partners to engage in the Platform to tackle Undeclared Work; believes that the collaborative economy, via recorded electronic transactions, can help Member States combat practices that could lead to unfair competition;

15.  Recalls that the European Court of Justice has defined the concept of ‘worker’ on the basis of an employment relationship characterised by certain criteria, such as subordination, remuneration and the nature of the work; welcomes, in this regard, the Commission’s communication on a European agenda for the collaborative economy; calls for more efforts to be made to tackle bogus self-employment, to protect workers and to create a level playing field for businesses in the transport sector;

16.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to guarantee all workers in the transport sector decent working conditions, including the required level of health and safety protection at work, regardless of the size and type of the company employing them, the place of employment or the underlying contract; stresses the importance of health and safety at work, particularly in the light of demographic changes and the high level of mobility of workers in the transport sector;

17.  Draws attention to a number of instances of unfair competition in the transport sector, which are often at the expense of small transport businesses; recalls that unfair competition can contribute to the degradation of working conditions; calls on the responsible authorities to sanction any misconduct in this regard in an adequate way;

18.  Stresses that working and employment standards must not be circumvented through subcontracting; encourages the Member States to monitor the situation, to strengthen, where necessary, laws on joint and several liability, and to ensure the adequate implementation and enforcement of existing regulations;

19.  Welcomes the flexible working time models negotiated by the social partners in the transport sector that enable workers better to reconcile work and private life; stresses, however, the importance of monitoring compliance with mandatory rules on working hours, and driving and resting times, which should become easier as a result of the digitalisation of the transport sector;

20.  Stresses the particular importance of SMEs operating in the transport sector in small towns, hard-to-access regions and on the outskirts of large urban areas in providing transport for people commuting to work or travelling to schools, shops and services, particularly where the public transport system does not function properly;

21.  Highlights the importance to transport workers of 21st century working skills – such as digital skills, team working, critical thinking and problem solving – in coping with transformations and technological developments in the sector; stresses that the key to socially sustainable transformation and adaptation in the transport sector lies in employee training; calls on the social partners, as well as on education and training institutions, to develop related skill strategies and education programmes for small transport businesses; regards it as the employer’s task to acquaint employees properly with new technologies such as IT and tracking applications; stresses that, in the case of temporary contracts, the agency supplying the staff must give them adequate preparation and training;

22.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote social economy models in the transport sector and to exchange best practices in this regard, as social enterprises have proven more resilient during times of economic crisis than other business models;

23.  Calls on the Commission to gather reliable data on the collaborative economy in the transport sector and to study the impact on working conditions.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

26.9.2016

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

35

2

9

Members present for the final vote

Laura Agea, Tim Aker, Guillaume Balas, Brando Benifei, Mara Bizzotto, Enrique Calvet Chambon, David Casa, Ole Christensen, Martina Dlabajová, Lampros Fountoulis, Elena Gentile, Arne Gericke, Thomas Händel, Marian Harkin, Danuta Jazłowiecka, Agnes Jongerius, Ádám Kósa, Kostadinka Kuneva, Jean Lambert, Jérôme Lavrilleux, Jeroen Lenaers, Verónica Lope Fontagné, Javi López, Morten Løkkegaard, Dominique Martin, Elisabeth Morin-Chartier, Emilian Pavel, João Pimenta Lopes, Georgi Pirinski, Marek Plura, Sofia Ribeiro, Maria João Rodrigues, Anne Sander, Jutta Steinruck, Ulrike Trebesius, Marita Ulvskog, Renate Weber, Tatjana Ždanoka, Jana Žitňanská

Substitutes present for the final vote

Georges Bach, Rosa D’Amato, Rosa Estaràs Ferragut, Tania González Peñas, Sergio Gutiérrez Prieto, Flavio Zanonato, Gabriele Zimmer

(1)

Report commissioned by the European Commission on the State of the EU Road Haulage Market (2014), Task A: Collection and Analysis of Data on the Structure of the Road Haulage Sector in the European Union (3 February 2014); http://ec.europa.eu/transport/modes/road/studies/doc/2014-02-03-state-of-the-eu-road-haulage-market-task-a-report.pdf.

(2)

Presentation by Mark Pearson, Deputy Director, OECD Directorate for Employment Labour and Social Affairs at the EMPL-ECON hearing on inequalities on 21 June 2016; https://polcms.secure.europarl.europa.eu/cmsdata/upmloas/e54ad36f-29cb-4c77-a9c7-2e4e2858fe55/Microsoft%20-%20Inequality%20OECD%Pearson.pdf.

(3)

‘A New Start for Europe: My Agenda for Jobs, Growth, Fairness and Democratic Change – Political Guidelines for the next European Commission; Opening Statement in the European Parliament Plenary Session Strasbourg, 15 July 2015; Jean-Claude Juncker, Candidate for President of the European Commission’, p. 7; http://www.eesc.europa.eu/resources/docs/jean-claude-juncker---political-guidelines.pdf.


RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Date adopted

11.10.2016

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

42

3

1

Members present for the final vote

Daniela Aiuto, Lucy Anderson, Marie-Christine Arnautu, Inés Ayala Sender, Georges Bach, Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Deirdre Clune, Michael Cramer, Luis de Grandes Pascual, Andor Deli, Karima Delli, Isabella De Monte, Tania González Peñas, Dieter-Lebrecht Koch, Merja Kyllönen, Miltiadis Kyrkos, Bogusław Liberadzki, Peter Lundgren, Marian-Jean Marinescu, Georg Mayer, Gesine Meissner, Cláudia Monteiro de Aguiar, Renaud Muselier, Markus Pieper, Salvatore Domenico Pogliese, Tomasz Piotr Poręba, Gabriele Preuß, Christine Revault D’Allonnes Bonnefoy, Dominique Riquet, Massimiliano Salini, David-Maria Sassoli, Claudia Schmidt, Jill Seymour, Claudia Țapardel, Keith Taylor, Pavel Telička, Wim van de Camp, Elissavet Vozemberg-Vrionidi, Roberts Zīle, Kosma Złotowski, Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska

Substitutes present for the final vote

Knut Fleckenstein, Maria Grapini, Evžen Tošenovský

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Olle Ludvigsson

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