A law aiming at reform of the road transport sector, which was opposed by Estonia and several other EU countries, was passed at the European Parliament on Thursday. The Estonian government may consider legal action.
The bill, known as the mobility package, was endorsed by MEPs last December but opposed by all three Baltic States, as well as member states Bulgaria, Cyprus, Hungary, Malta, Poland and Romania.
The provision which caused contention requires trucks to return to their country of registration every eight weeks, and their drivers every four weeks. This will combat registering fictional transport companies in states in the union which have lower tax rates, it is argued.
"The revised rules for posting of drivers, drivers' driving times and rest periods and better enforcement of cabotage (the right to operate sea, air, or other transport services within a particular territory – ed.) rules [...] aim to put an end to distortion of competition in the road transport sector and provide better rest conditions for drivers," the European Parliament said in a statement on Thursday.
Lithuania says that the law is an attempt on the part of some Western European nations to curb competition; that country's prime minister, Saulius Skvernelis, says that his government will contest the law at the European Court of Justice if it is implemented.
The mandatory return of trucks will also lead to a rise in pollution, critics say.
ERR's online news in Estonian reports that the law also aims to ensure better conditions for drivers, for instance by giving them more scope for spending time at home – with accommodation to be paid for if he or she cannot reach home. It should also ensure more equal pay conditions, supporters say.
The law is due to come into effect 18 months from now, according to the EU's Official Journal.
Aas: Estonia has not decided on contesting EU mobility package in court
Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas (Center) said Estonia has not yet decided on whether it will turn to the European Court of Justice in order to contest the EU mobility package passed in the European Parliament.
Aas said at a government press conference on Thursday there are countries which have previously announced they will turn to the European Court of Justice if the road package is adopted in its current form.
"Estonia has not made a decision on whether we will go along with this appeal together or go to court separately in some way. I suppose now we have to form a position and then make a decision on whether Estonia will take legal action or not," Aas said.
The minister added that in his view, this law discriminates against all companies located in peripheral or island countries of Europe.
Editor: Andrew Whyte