REPORT on penalties for serious infringements against the social rules in road transport
30.4.2010 - (2009/2154(INI))
Committee on Transport and Tourism
Rapporteur: Hella Ranner
MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
on penalties for serious infringements against the social rules in road transport
The European Parliament,
– having regard to the report from the Commission analysing the penalties for serious infringements against the social rules in road transport, as provided for in the legislation of the Member States (COM(2009)0225),
– having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,
– having regard to the report of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A7-0130/2010),
A. whereas in recent years the European Union has created a system of social rules in road transport by adopting Regulation (EEC) No 3821/85 and Regulation (EC) No 561/2006, together with Directive 2006/22/EC, in order to increase safety on the roads and to ensure fair competition,
B. whereas the penalty systems in the Member States of the European Union have evolved historically, and therefore show wide disparities, with fines in extreme cases that can be as much as ten times higher in one country than in another,
C. whereas the legal position with regard to international transport operations has become very hard for undertakings and especially for drivers to understand; whereas the Member States face major challenges in transposing the regulations as required and whereas the current situation is not compatible with the single market,
D. concerned at the reports of shortcomings affecting digital tachographs which make them highly vulnerable to tampering,
1. Welcomes the Commission report on analysing the penalties for serious infringements against the social rules in road transport, as provided for in the legislation of the Member States; regrets, however, that because of incomplete data from some Member States the report does not constitute a comprehensive analysis of the current situation in Europe; asks the Commission to call on the Member States to supply the missing data;
2. Notes that the Commission report is based on the categorisation of infringements according to the new Annex III to Directive 2006/22/EC, without taking account of the deadline for implementation laid down in Article 2(1) of Commission Directive 2009/5/EC;
3. Calls therefore on the Commission to submit an updated and complete report on the implementation of the new Annex III to Directive 2006/22/EC before the end of 2010;
4. Points out that in past reporting periods there have been significant delays, so that, for example, the current report of 3 August 2009 (the 24th report from the Commission analysing the penalties for serious infringements against the social rules in road transport) deals only with data from 2005 and 2006, and hence can draw hardly any conclusions about the current state of harmonisation of the social rules for road transport users;
5. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to do their utmost to ensure that the objectives set out in Article 17 of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 are fulfilled more quickly, so that more recent statistics are available for future harmonisation measures;
6. Points out that Annex IV to Regulation (EC) No 1071/2009 also contains a list of serious infringements within the meaning of this Regulation; therefore considers that a harmonised categorisation of serious infringements against the social rules is extremely necessary;
Significant differences between Member States
7. Notes that the differences in penalties for serious infringements against the social rules in road transport as provided for in the legislation of the Member States concern not only the level of fines, but also the types and the categorisation of the penalties;
8. Points out that these differences can be explained by economic and geographical factors, as well as the Member States' differing legal systems in criminal matters and their differing policy approaches to road safety;
9. Notes that the social rules in road transport, in particular Regulation (EEC) No 3821/85 and Regulation (EC) No 561/2006, together with Directive 2006/22/EC, afford the Member States a great deal of scope for interpretation; regrets that the many imprecise formulations in the European rules necessarily result in a failure to achieve uniform transposition into national law in the Member States; takes the view that to achieve further harmonisation we first need uniform and binding interpretation of these Regulations and the Directive;
10. Regrets that some Member States do not provide for differentiation of penalties according to the seriousness of the infringement; calls on the Member States to adopt national legislation that has an effective, proportionate and dissuasive effect and that takes due account of how serious an infringement is;
11. Emphasises that an effective, balanced and dissuasive penalty system can only be based on clear, transparent and comparable penalties across the Member States; calls on the Member States to find legislative and practical ways of reducing the in some cases very substantial differences in the type and level of penalties applied;
12. Calls on the European Commission, after consulting inspection bodies and representatives of the transport sector, to come up with a uniform and binding interpretation of the Regulation on driving and resting hours. The inspection bodies should take this interpretation into account;
13. Takes the view that to achieve further approximation of the types of penalties and of the levels of fines, a categorization of fines linked to a categorization of penalties is needed, and minimum and maximum penalties for each infringement against the social rules in road transport should be laid down; stresses that in streamlining penalties the need for fair fines to be proportionate in the different Member States in accordance with objective criteria (such as GNP or geographical factors) must be balanced by an effective deterrent against serious infringements;
14. Points out that the new Annex III to Directive 2006/22/EC introduced by Commission Directive 2009/5/EC should be evaluated as the foundation for a uniform approach to categorising infringements against the social rules in road transport as laid down in the legislation of the Member States; urges the Member States to adopt the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary for rapid transposition of Commission Directive 2009/5/EC;
15. Also recalls that the Treaty of Lisbon has inserted in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union a new Article 83(2) on the approximation of criminal laws and regulations of the Member States; calls on the Commission to examine these new legislative means in the field of judicial cooperation in criminal matters and to submit, within twelve months, a report to the Council and the European Parliament on the possible harmonisation measures, including aspects relating to road safety and the cross-border application of fines, if it has not already done so;
16. Welcomes the fact that pursuant to Article 22(4) of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 the Commission has prepared 'guidelines' to support the Member States in the national interpretation and application of this Regulation; notes, however, that the guidelines are not legally binding and have therefore not achieved their aim of uniform transposition in the Member States;
17. Considers that, in order to achieve an internal market in transport and to increase legal certainty for drivers and hauliers, the interpretation of the application of social legislation should be harmonised; with this in mind calls on the Commission, in cooperation with Corte, Tispol and Euro Contrôle Route, to submit proposals seeking to put an end to the discriminatory application of social legislation in road transport; highlights in this connection the need for a common, article-by-article interpretation of the application of Regulation No 581/2006 and Directive 3821/85/EC;
18. Calls on the Member States to take account of these guidelines in implementing the social rules so as to ensure that harmonised transposition is achieved;
19. Stresses that unfair competition can be avoided and road transport safety guaranteed only by consistent and non-discriminatory enforcement of the applicable legislation; emphasises that a harmonised and effective approach to checks is essential for the transposition of the social rules in road transport;
20. Points out that the traffic situation, in terms of infrastructure, volume of traffic and congestion, varies widely between the Member States and therefore considers that these factors, inter alia, could be taken into account in determining the frequency of checks, bearing in mind that one of their main purposes is to ensure compliance with social welfare rules;
21. Believes that the Commission should develop and promote such harmonised approaches to checks and take regulatory action so as to remove obstacles to the European single market and improve road safety; calls on the Commission, in order to achieve these objectives, to create an effective and appropriate coordination instrument at the European level;
22. Calls on the Commission to draw up recommendations and European minimum standards for the training of inspection bodies and for coordinating cooperation between the inspection bodies; asks the Commission to improve the collection of statistical information so as to enable more meaningful analysis of the effectiveness of enforcement and promote a harmonised approach by the Member States to enforcement issues;
23. Calls on the Member States always to train their enforcement staff in the latest developments in data collection and, in implementing common standards, to work closely with the European Commission in order to promote a harmonised approach to checks, thus creating legal certainty;
24. Takes the view that more frequent and thorough checks must be made both at the roadside and at the premises of undertakings; calls on the Commission to ensure that the Member States respect the amount of checks to be organised, as referred to in Article 2(3) of Directive 2006/22/EC; calls on the Commission to inform the European Parliament of the further steps it intends to take with regard to these checks;
25. Calls on the Commission to submit, as soon as possible, a report on the checks made on the shortcomings affecting digital tachographs and the steps taken to prevent their vulnerability;
26. Underlines that the digital tachograph, based on Regulation (EC) No 3821/85, should be improved as an instrument for checking: the Commission should investigate how to achieve faster downloading of data from the digital tachograph by the controlling authorities;
27. Draws attention to the Disproportionate Fines Complaint Desk set up by Euro Contrôle Route, and calls on drivers and hauliers to apply to this complaint desk in the event of disproportionate application of social legislation for road transport;
28. Considers that an easily understandable brochure in all official languages of the European Union would be useful for undertakings and for lorry drivers; stresses that this brochure should give the drivers and undertakings concerned more information about the relevant social rules and the penalties applicable to infringements in the various Member States; considers that such information should also be made available to undertakings and drivers from third countries; draws attention to the value of using intelligent transport systems to provide drivers with such information in real time;
29. Is convinced that in the context of using modern information and communication technologies and intelligent transport systems, the possibility should exist for businesses and drivers to obtain information on the social rules in force and the penalties for infringing them;
30. Calls on all the Member States to reinforce cooperation on the basis of existing structures such as Euro Contrôle Route and in this way to improve coordination of common checks, exchange of best practice and joint organisation of training programmes for control bodies;
31. Considers that all available technology should be used to inform lorry drivers, including those coming from neighbouring countries, in real time about the relevant social rules and the penalties applicable to infringements in the various Member States, for example with the use of GPS or other tools available;
32. Calls on the Member States to establish an appropriate infrastructure, including a sufficient number of safe parking spaces and services, on the European road network so that drivers can in fact comply with the provisions on driving times and rest periods and so that checks can be carried out efficiently; points out that the security aspect must be of particular importance in the case of these facilities; calls on the Commission periodically to publish, in the most appropriate format, the facilities available, both public and private, across the European road network, providing information on the services on offer for road sector professionals;
33. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to encourage and finance schemes for the construction of secure parking areas, since these are indispensable if drivers are to respect the provisions of Regulation No 561/2006;
34. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.
Pursuant to Article 10 of Directive 2006/22/EC, the Commission was required to submit a report to the European Parliament and the Council by 1 May 2009 analysing the penalties for serious infringements provided for in the legislation of the Member States.
Your rapporteur calls on the Commission to provide Parliament with full and timely information in future. The Commission's report is not only too late, but also incomplete. For the purpose of detailed analysis, it is particularly important for the Commission to submit, before the end of this year, a revised communication to the Council and Parliament analysing the implementation of the new Annex III to Directive 2006/22/EC in the Member States;
The Commission report summarises the various types of penalties laid down in the Member States:
· Financial penalties: All the Member States provide for financial penalties as a possible sanction, although the amounts vary considerably. The same offence can incur a penalty ranging between EUR 58.23 (Malta) and EUR 5 000 or more (Austria, Cyprus, Germany and Ireland). These wide disparities may be the result of social, economic or geographical factors, but this does not explain the situation in all the countries concerned (e.g. Spain and Hungary);
· Immobilisation of the vehicle: Immobilisation of the vehicle is a further possible penalty. This penalty can also ensure that the driver takes a sufficient rest period. 15 countries informed the Commission that their legislation provides for immobilisation (Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom);
· Driving bans and imprisonment: Seven Member States provide for the possibility of prison sentences for serious infringements, although in some cases this only applies where the fine has not been paid or where the person concerned repeats an offence for which they have already been penalised (Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Ireland, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom). Some Member States also provide for the possible withdrawal of driving licences or driver cards (Bulgaria, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Slovakia and the United Kingdom).
The report also highlights the liability of undertakings in all the Member States, in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 561/2006. In the majority of Member States (Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Sweden and the United Kingdom) the legislation includes different penalties for drivers and undertakings, the penalties for undertakings being higher or more severe than those for drivers. Under Article 10(4) of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006, consignors, freight forwarders, tour operators, principal contractors, subcontractors and driver employment agencies must ensure that contractually agreed transport time schedules comply with the provisions on driving times and rest periods. This obligation is only explicitly referred to in the national legislation of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Poland and Sweden.
Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 also introduced the principle of extra-territoriality: where the competent authorities in a Member State detect an infringement on the territory of another Member State or of a third country, they may impose a penalty provided that no penalty has already been imposed for that infringement. Such infringements are penalised in the same way as if the infringement had been committed in the Member State imposing the penalty. There must be no discrimination as regards the penalty. However, this principle could also have negative repercussions on fair competition as long as Member States apply very different penalties for the same infringement: hauliers who have committed an infringement may prefer to pay the penalty for this infringement in a Member State that applies very low fines rather than risk a very high penalty in another Member State.
Some Member States have a penalty system without differentiation of penalties (Austria, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom), which makes it difficult to analyse the penalties for serious infringements, since these countries have listed only the minimum and maximum penalties. Malta, for example, has a set fine for infringements (EUR 58.23).
Other countries have systems with differentiation of penalties:
· with regard to infringements against Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 (Articles 6 to 8), two or more levels for the same kind of infringement are distinguished and specific fines are set for each level (see Table I of the report). The report also shows the differences in the amounts of the fines: the fine for exceeding the daily driving time by more than two hours can be ten times higher in Spain (EUR 4 600) than in Greece (EUR 400). The Member States also use very different methods for determining the level: the various limits are expressed either in minutes, hours or as a percentage. The rise in penalties can be either linear or progressive. Other countries such as Belgium use two criteria for determining the different levels: exceeding the daily driving times and uninterrupted driving time;
· with regard to infringements against Regulation (EEC) No 3821/85, the Commission notes that there are significant differences not only in the level of fines but also in the way in which infringements are categorised (Table II). Even though the new Annex III to Directive 2006/22/EC categorises certain infringements as ‘very serious’ – for example where a driver holds more than one valid driver card – some Member States categorise this as a ‘minor infringement’. On the other hand, some more minor infringements incur the highest level of penalty in other countries. The amount of fines for infringements against Regulation (EEC) No 3821/85 differs significantly. In some cases, the maximum fines may range from EUR 586 (Lithuania) to EUR 30 000 (France, with the possibility of an additional prison sentence).
To sum up, it can be noted that not only the level of fines differs greatly in the various Member States, but also the types of penalties and the categorisation of the various infringements against social rules. The Commission considers this situation to be unsatisfactory for drivers and transport undertakings. The new Annex III to Directive 2006/22/EC (amended by Directive 2009/5/EC) provides a basis for a general understanding of what should be considered as serious infringements and what should not. Member States are encouraged to take the necessary steps to ensure the harmonised application of social rules in road transport.
The social rules in road transport pursue a range of different objectives. Road transport safety, improved working conditions and guarantees of fair competition are regulated in various legislative texts, some of which go back several years.
The Commission report shows that there are in some cases significant differences in the transposition of driving times and rest periods and of the rules relating to the tachograph in the various Member States.
- Implementation of the existing provisions
Your rapporteur believes that the implementation in their entirety of the social rules in the Member States is not only of immense importance for road transport safety on Europe's roads, but is also of huge significance for the European single market.
- Uniform categorisation of infringements
The categorisation contained in the new Annex III to Directive 2006/22/EC is to be welcomed. The Member States are now called upon to integrate this categorisation into their legislation.
- More frequent and more thorough checks, and better cooperation between Member States during implementation
In addition, it is absolutely essential that checks are indeed made of compliance with the regulations. They must be carried out more frequently and must be coordinated across frontiers. This will necessarily involve improved cooperation between the Member States in implementing the legislation.
Your rapporteur therefore calls for the establishment of a European Road Transport Agency, which would be responsible for coordinating cooperation between the competent bodies and thereby for ensuring that the checks are more uniform and complete.
- Harmonisation of penalties
Article 19(1) of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 requires Member States to lay down rules on penalties applicable to infringements of Regulations (EC) No 561/2006 and (EEC) No 3821/85 that are effective, proportionate, dissuasive and non-discriminatory. However, these penalties vary, in some cases widely, between Member States.
Your rapporteur would like to point out that the differences in penalties have arisen for several reasons. In part, they can be explained by geographic or economic conditions. But the varying legal systems in the Member States are also a factor in the often significant disparities in the level or the type of penalty. Your rapporteur takes the view that comparable penalties should be applied to comparable infringements. Nevertheless, it should be acknowledged that some differences on grounds of differing national conditions are unavoidable.
With this in mind, the Commission should test the new legislative means introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon through the new Article 83/2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union: 'If the approximation of criminal laws and regulations of the Member States proves essential to ensure the effective implementation of a Union policy in an area which has been subject to harmonisation measures, directives may establish minimum rules with regard to the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the area concerned. Such directives shall be adopted by the same ordinary or special legislative procedure as was followed for the adoption of the harmonisation measures in question, without prejudice to Article 76.'
-  It should be pointed out, however, that the Commission report is based on data for the period before the new Annex III of Directive 2006/22/EC came into force.
RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE
Result of final vote
Members present for the final vote
Magdalena Alvarez, Inés Ayala Sender, Georges Bach, Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Antonio Cancian, Michael Cramer, Luis de Grandes Pascual, Christine De Veyrac, Saïd El Khadraoui, Ismail Ertug, Carlo Fidanza, Knut Fleckenstein, Jacqueline Foster, Mathieu Grosch, Juozas Imbrasas, Ville Itälä, Dieter-Lebrecht Koch, Georgios Koumoutsakos, Werner Kuhn, Bogusław Liberadzki, Eva Lichtenberger, Gesine Meissner, Hella Ranner, Vilja Savisaar, Olga Sehnalová, Debora Serracchiani, Brian Simpson, Dirk Sterckx, Silvia-Adriana Ţicău, Dominique Vlasto, Artur Zasada, Roberts Zīle
Substitute(s) present for the final vote
Philip Bradbourn, Michel Dantin, Derk Jan Eppink, Jelko Kacin, Dominique Riquet, Anna Rosbach, Sabine Wils, Corien Wortmann-Kool, Janusz Władysław Zemke