The European Committee of the Regions has today reacted to the European Commission’s proposals for responding to the major changes to the European transport system through the adoption of two opinions at the Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and EU Budget (COTER). Ivan Žagar (SI/EPP), Mayor of the Municipality of Slovenska Bistrica, presented his text on promoting seamless mobility solutions and Spyros Spyridon (GR/EPP), Municipal Councillor of Poros, discussed the labour aspects of road transport. Both rapporteurs welcomed the long-term plan to deliver clean, socially fair and competitive mobility to all Europeans whilst highlighting that measures must be taken to ensure that citizens and business does not suffer as a result of these proposals.
Promoting seamless mobility
Looking specifically at road tolls, Mayor Ivan Žagar believes they should be seen as a tool for achieving development goals: “Local and regional authorities are responsible for shaping and implementing regional and urban transport policy and for ensuring public passenger transportation in their area. However, decision-making at local level is closely tied in with the framework laid down by national and European policies” he said. The rapporteur would also like more explicit connections to be made between revenues from toll systems and support for peripheral regions and regions, which are far away from the European networks. “Member States should be required to ensure funding for the development of a local and regional transport network, to the value of at least 15% of revenue generated by congestion charges” he proposes. Lastly, the rapporteur welcomes the shift to tolls based on distance travelled, but warns that the calculation of the tolls should take the differences between regions in terms of traffic density into account as well as the distance between business and residential centres.
The labour aspects of road transport
Councillor Spyros Spyridon pointed out that the main problems in the transport field stem from the absence of a sufficient level of social cohesion between regions. He notes specifically that there are wide disparities in terms of working conditions, wages and labour legislation, which can result in distortion of competition and compromise road safety. “This problem is particularly acute in cross-border regions, where there are significant differences in living standards on either side of the border” he stressed. The variety of rules on the movement of heavy goods vehicles in different Member States draws the rapporteur to propose the introduction of common guidelines, in close cooperation with local authorities. “We need Member States to implement the proposed legislation systematically and without exceptions. In doing so, the EU would be able to deepen the internal market and promote jobs, growth, development and investment, boosting the competitiveness of the EU and its regions” he concluded. In order to simplify the procedure for posted drivers, the rapporteur suggests considering a weighted daily allowance as a possible solution “this would be paid to drivers in accordance with the country providing the transport work combined with the country of origin” Councillor Spyridon suggests, noting that it could be calculated on the basis of per capita GDP.
Both opinions will go for adoption at the January 2018 Plenary Session of the CoR.