Estonian Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas and the transport ministers of eight EU member states met on Tuesday with Executive Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans and European Commissioner for Transport Adina-Ioana Valean to prevent the Commission's mobility package from taking effect in its present form due to the draft legislation being incompatible with the principles of the European single market and environmental objectives.
The transport ministers of Estonia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland and Romania are seeking to stop the implementation of an obligation for trucks in international transport to return to the company's operational center.
The ministers jointly objected to the package at a meeting with Timmermans and Valean, saying the unladen journeys imposed on road freight operators and the protectionism that would emerge as a result of the plans are incompatible with the principles of the European Union's integrated internal market and the European Green Deal.
The obligation for trucks in international transport to return to the company's operational center every eight weeks would mean empty journeys to Estonia for road freight operators. In addition to the greenhouse gases produced as a result, the obligation may entail higher freight rates and general logistical inefficiency.
Estonian Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas said that the plans imposes geographical restrictions on transport service provision.
"Together with the other states, we deem this obligation discriminatory towards operators from peripheral regions of the European Union," Aas said.
The ministers underlined the European Commission itself has likewise said that the mobility plan is not compatible with the Green Deal and does not contribute to achieving climate neutrality. The European Commission will be carrying out an additional impact assessment on the obligation before confirming it at the plenary sitting of the European Parliament.
"No impact analysis was actually carried out into the obligation to return [to operational center], it was simply added to the mobility package after a vote had been held in December 2018, in which Estonia voted in favor of the general principles of the package as it did not include the obligation to return at the time," he noted.
"We are disappointed and critical because the initial goal of the mobility package was to open up member states' freight markets to competition and specify the rules in effect; in the end, however, the opposite occurred with a number of new requirements, which will end up rendering shipping markets more inaccessible."
Estonia's position depends on further developments and the final text of the package.
"A number of member states have said they'd go to court if the draft package is adopted by the European Parliament. We are also weighing this option," the minister said.
Editor: Helen Wright