Estonia wants to prevent the adoption of the EU's road transport reform ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Trucks.
Trucks. Source: EBU/ERR

Transport ministers for Estonia and eight EU countries are appealing to the European Parliament over the adoption of reforms to the road transport sector which they believe undermine the competitiveness of transport companies.

One of the aims of the European Union's road transport reform, the road package, is to ensure better working and social conditions for drivers. 

However, there will be an obligation for trucks in international transport to return to the company's operational center every eight weeks which would mean empty journeys to Estonia, and other countries, 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.

Island and peripheral countries of the European Union believe the proposed restrictions discriminate against them and have written to the European Parliament. 

Their main concerns are the obligation for the vehicle to return regularly to its home country, ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported on Friday evening.

In February, ERR reported the eight countries opposing the new law are Estonia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland and Romania. 

Minister of Economic Affairs Taavi Aas (Center), who signed the address, said this is a long and costly journey for the peripheral and island states of the European Union.

"This is just real protectionism, i.e. Central European car companies want to oust competitors from Eastern Europe or the periphery. And such a package will simply make the situation of these competitors more difficult," the minister said.

Aas said carriers could register their companies in Central Europe to escape high additional costs. 

Ermo Perolainen, head of the information department of the International Road Transport Association, added: "For the peripheral countries, including Estonia, this means that we are simply being pushed out of Europe and our transport companies are simply being wiped out."

He said no one would want to make empty returns, in which case there would be no point in doing the work anymore.

Perolainen said it is not yet clear how the restrictions apply to third country carriers. If they are not affected by the restrictions, they have a competitive advantage.

"It is a particularly funny situation or an absurd situation that the European Union lays down rules, discriminatory rules which only apply to companies in its own member states," said Perolainen.

Aas added the package is supported by the old European countries which are having to compete with the new European countries and are trying to resolve the situation in this way.

In their letter, ministers point out that this is protectionism and should be abandoned.

"Of course, this is also being considered by these countries in order to go to the court of the European Union if it should vote in. But looking at today's balance of power, it will probably be voted through," Aas said.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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