The new EU regulation for truck drivers: what you need to know

As part of its “Europe on the Move” initiative, the European Commission plans to overhaul the rules regarding how the 1996 Postal Workers Directive applies to truck drivers in all countries across the bloc. The new update, which is set to be implemented in 2020, aims to create fair competition conditions and increase trucking efficiency, although it’s caused controversy among different member states. Making things even less clear for transport companies, an original section of the proposal specifically dealing with transport has been voted out.

To help clarify matters, this article looks at the elements of the update that could potentially impact transport companies in the near future.

Why is the EU updating the directive?

The original Postal Workers Directive dates back to 1996, when the EU was made up of 15 member states. At the time, there wasn’t much cargo movement between lower salary countries, mainly from eastern Europe, and higher salary countries, mainly from western Europe. Today, the EU is made up of 28 member states, and has seen a huge rise in cargo movement between lower and higher wage countries.

The European Commission wants to make sure that drivers from countries where salary expectations are lower can’t undercut their counterparts from higher paying nations. It also wants to improve driver working conditions and do away with driver paper documentation by switching to an electronic proof system for controllers.

New proposals for drivers

New payment rules

Under the current proposal, drivers who travel outside their own country will receive their home pay level for three days. If they are still working abroad after this three-day period, they will be paid according to the rules of the country in which they are working.

This does not only include that country’s minimum wage but also its local remuneration rules regarding overtime, seniority weighting, bonuses and allowances.

As an example, a Polish driver travels across Germany, Belgium and France over a 10-day period. For the first three days when outside Poland, they would continue to receive their home country salary.

From day four to day 10, they would then be paid according to the rules of Germany, Belgium and France, corresponding respectively to the time spent in each country.

Cabotage cap lift

Another important change is the removal of the cabotage cap. Drivers have only been allowed to make three journeys in a seven-day period up to now. This restriction will be lifted under the new strategy, allowing for “any number of cabotage operations within 5 days of the international delivery.”

Improved driver conditions

Under pressure from MEPs and trade unions, the European Commission is also proposing that companies must pay for driver accommodation when a rest period of 45 hours is involved. This means that drivers are not forced to sleep inside their cabs.

How freight companies might be affected

The update has led to friction between lower-salary countries such as Poland and Spain with higher-salary countries including France and Germany.

Those opposed to the new measures predict that it will damage competition because of greater labour costs. Companies welcoming the updated regulation claim that it will eliminate unfair competition practices, ensuring that drivers are paid the same, regardless of their home member state. EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker said this means drivers will get “the same pay for the same work in the same place”.

Wrapping up

While there is opposition from some stakeholders, the new European Union-wide rules aim to introduce new technology and protocols that will increase efficiency and improve driver working conditions. However, companies can also build on this EU regulation by proactively improving their fleet management with cutting-edge technologies. A telematics solution gives you a clear view of where your vehicles are round-the-clock, while reducing paper work and ensuring compliance regarding driver behavior and times.

While there remains uncertainty regarding what its full impact will be, this new strategy could bring about seismic changes for trucking across the continent. The companies that take time to understand all the possible challenges and opportunities presented by the new framework will be best placed to thrive, regardless of how things play out.

Beverley Wise
As Webfleet Regional Director UKI for Bridgestone Mobility Solutions, Beverley Wise has more than 20 years of experience in the automotive industry, primarily within the leasing sector. She firmly believes that being a decisive leader is key to delivering great success. She likes to innovate with her mantra of "Ask for forgiveness, not permission," helping to move businesses forward. She has a strong work ethic and strives to be the best she can be, which she likes to instil into teams she manages, being fair but firm with a high degree of empathy. Beverley has been with Webfleet overseeing UKI sales for six years, where she has seen several changes. She is passionate about the future of the automotive industry, believing that the transition to electric or alternative-fuelled vehicles is a real game changer.

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