The government on Thursday endorsed Estonia joining the legal actions against the European Union's mobility package, which according to the government is necessary to stand up for the values of the single market and fulfill the green goals.
Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas (Center) said the principles approved by the European Parliament are not consistent with the other goals of the EU, which include moving increasingly towards greener transport and a more competitive economic environment.
"It is absolutely unjustified and environmentally unfriendly to force cargo vehicles to regularly return to their home country empty. First, this puts Estonian haulers in an unfavorable competition situation, raises the cost of transportation of goods and undermines the competitiveness of our economy in general. Second, empty hauls significantly increase the environmental footprint," the minister said.
Aas added the European Commission found in its recent impact analysis that empty hauls cause up to 2.9 million tons in additional carbon emissions per year, thereby increasing annual carbon emissions by road transport by approximately 5 percent.
"In addition, NOx and PM2.5 emissions bring with them up to €25.9 million in costs for addressing various kinds of damage," the minister said.
Besides, according to the Estonian ministry, the requirement to apply the driving and resting time regulations of the countries that a vehicle passes through, when services are nor provided on the internal market of the respective country, is incomprehensible.
"These are protectionist restrictions imposed on the free movement of goods and services, which are not consistent with the core values of the single market," Aas said.
The EU mobility package stepped into force on August 21 of last year. Several of its requirements will start to apply gradually over a period of several years.
The mobility package changed the working and resting time requirements for drivers, the requirements concerning operation as a road haulier and access to the international road haulage market, as well as imposed new norms concerning the posting of drivers in international haulage.
The Estonian positions will be presented to the European Court of Justice by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Legal actions against the mobility package have been filed already by Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania, Cyprus, Malta, Hungary and Poland.
Editor: Helen Wright