Road safety: Clamp-down on traffic offences committed abroad – FAQ
Brussels, 7 November 2013
Over the past 20 years, more and more vehicles have been crossing borders and the number of non-resident drivers committing road traffic offences has increased. However, it has often been impossible for them to be identified and punished due to the lack of appropriate cooperation instruments between enforcement organisations. Apart from giving rise to discrimination between EU citizens, which reduces the acceptance of enforcement measures, this also directly reduced the actual and perceived effectiveness of the measures. Therefore, the EU adopted the Cross-Border Enforcement Directive, which Member States had to transpose by today.
What does cross-border enforcement mean?
Cross-border enforcement refers to the pursuit and punishment of traffic offences committed with a car that is registered in a Member State other than the one where the offence is committed.
How serious are the problems caused by non-resident drivers?
- Non-resident drivers account for 5% of the road traffic in the EU, but around 15% of speeding offences.
- A driver of a car registered abroad is three times more likely to commit offences than a resident driver.
- In countries like France, where transit and tourism are high, speeding offences committed by non-residents can reach 25% of the total number of offences and go up to 40–50% during very busy periods of the year.
- This means that cross-border enforcement is of particular interest for countries such as Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Spain.
How does the Directive address this situation?
The main objective of the Directive is to improve road safety by offering a tool for enforcement authorities in the Member State where the offence was committed to pursue the drivers of vehicles registered in other EU Member States when they commit traffic offences. The Directive ensures equal treatment of foreign and resident drivers by reducing the impunity of foreign drivers which currently creates a feeling of unfairness and has a negative impact on the public acceptance of enforcement.
The Directive gives Member States' authorities access to each other's vehicle registration data via an electronic data exchange network to be put in place in order to identify EU drivers. This will allow for the exchange of the necessary data between the Member State in which the offence was committed and the Member State in which the vehicle is registered. Once the vehicle owner's name and address are known, a letter may be sent to the presumed offender, on the basis of a model established by the Directive. However, it is for the Member State of offence to decide on the follow-up and punishment of the traffic offence.
Which traffic offences are covered?
Eight major road safety related offences are included in the Directive:
- Not using a seatbelt,
- Not stopping at a red traffic light or other mandatory stop signal,
- Drink driving,
- Driving under the influence of drugs,
- Not wearing a safety helmet (for motorcyclists),
- Using a forbidden lane (such as the forbidden use of an emergency lane, a lane reserved for public transport, or a lane closed down for road works),
- Illegally using a mobile phone, or any other communications device, while driving.
Does the Directive harmonise traffic sanctions across the EU?
No. The national rules in the Member State in which the offence was committed, including multilateral or bilateral agreements and conventions (e.g. Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union), will continue to apply regarding both the exact definition of the offence and sanctions.
The level of applicable sanctions is laid down in national law and is the same as for drivers of cars registered in the Member State where the offence is committed.
How does the Directive enable authorities to track down offenders from abroad?
Each of the EU Member States covered by the Cross-Border Enforcement Directive (all except for Denmark, the UK and Ireland – see below) has to designate a national contact point to exchange information for the identification of drivers committing one of the offences described above. Upon detecting an offence, the contact point in that Member State performs a search through the information exchange system, using the full licence plate number of the vehicle concerned. Once they have decided whether to follow up on the traffic offence, the authorities in the Member State of offence send an information letter to the holder/owner of the registration certificate. This information letter has to be written in the same language as the registration certificate in the Member State of registration and it must include information about the traffic offence – the nature of the offence, the date and time of detection, the article of the relevant piece of legislation infringed – and the legal consequences of the offence.
For example: a car registered in Latvia is recorded as not having stopped at a red traffic light in Belgium. This information is transmitted to the national contact point in Belgium who, using the licence plate number, sends a request for the address of the holder of the car to the Latvian database. Based on the results of the search, the Belgian contact point can choose to follow up the offence by informing the holder of the Latvian registration certificate of the offence committed and its legal consequences under Belgian law. This information is provided in Latvian and sent to the address included in the vehicle registration data.
What will happen if the offender is not the holder of the recorded car?
The information letter is sent to the holder of the vehicle recorded as having been involved in an offence. A reply form is enclosed with this communication, which gives the recipient the opportunity to identify the driver of the vehicle, in cases where the holder/owner was not driving at the time of the offence. The information letter should also include details related to sanctions (e.g. how to pay fines). This could include the bank details required to make an international money transfer.
What will happen if the recipient ignores the request?
Council Framework Decision 2005/214/JHA on the application of the principle of mutual recognition of financial penalties also covers road traffic offences. The Decision provides that a final conviction to pay a fine by one Member State is recognised by the other Member States.
Where can drivers find information about the traffic rules in other Member States?
The European Commission website "Going Abroad" provides structured information on traffic rules relating to the eight offences covered by the Cross-Border Enforcement Directive: http://ec.europa.eu/transport/road_safety/going_abroad/index_en.htm.
The information has been provided by Member States according to Article 8 of the Directive and is to be made available in all EU official languages.
The European Commission is also developing a smartphone application to make the information easily accessible during a journey abroad.
Additionally, TISPOL, the European traffic police network, has published a series of country driving guides, providing information about national traffic laws: www.tispol.org
Are all the 28 Member States of the EU obliged to transpose the Cross-Border Enforcement Directive?
The Directive is based on Article 87(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which covers the area of cooperation and exchange of information between EU Member States in police and judicial matters. However, a number of protocols are annexed to the Treaty. According to Protocol 22, Denmark has opted out of being covered by any legislation adopted under Title V of the Treaty (Area of Freedom, Security and Justice), and consequently is not bound by the Cross-Border Enforcement Directive or subject to its application. According to the Danish Constitution, a referendum would need to be held in order for the country to opt in to the provisions of Title V of the Treaty (Denmark would require an international agreement to be concluded for that purpose between Denmark and the Union). Such a referendum may take place as early as May 2014.
According to Protocol 21 of the Treaty, Ireland and the UK have opted out of being covered by any legislation adopted under Title V of the Treaty (Area of Freedom, Security and Justice), and consequently are not bound by the Directive or subject to its application. However, any of the two Member States can decide to opt in to Title V of the Treaty by notifying the other Member States and the Commission of their decision.
On 27 January 2012, the Commission took the Council and the European Parliament to the Court of Justice, in order to ensure that the Cross-Border Enforcement Directive uses transport and not police cooperation as a legal basis (Case C-43/12 Commission v European Parliament and Council). Does this have any impact on the transposition of the Cross-Border Enforcement Directive?
No. The Commission requested the Court of Justice to declare Directive 2011/82/EU void because it considers the legal basis to be incorrect. However, there is no disagreement between the institutions on the content of the Directive.
The Commission requested the Court of Justice to maintain the effects of the Directive according to Article 264 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union pending adoption of a new proposal for the Directive with the modified legal basis. This means that Member States are in any case obliged to transpose the Directive into their national law by today, with the exception of Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
Road Safety Newsletter 13: Overcoming barriers to enforcement of highway codes
Streamlining Europe’s supply chain: the way forward for logistics (speech)
European Logistics Conference /Brussels
7 November 2013
Ladies and gentlemen
Thank you all for attending today. I am happy to see so many parts of the wider logistics sector represented from this complex and interlinked supply chain.
I don’t need to tell you that logistics is one of the most dynamic sectors of our economy. But it is still worth recalling that as an industry, it accounts for at least 10% of Europe's GDP. It also provides more than 11 million jobs in the European Union. Six of the top 10 global logistics companies are European.
Logistics lies at the heart of Europe’s single market.
It is central to many business operations – to ship products to end-buyers, organise regular supply of raw and finished materials, provide long-distance forwarding and despatch services.
It is local, regional, national and international – sometimes all at the same time.
The nature of its operations means that gains made in efficiency have a direct impact on business performance and the competitiveness of European industry.
If we look at Europe's transport network as a whole, there is much more potential that could be unlocked for driving future competitiveness.
Since logistics companies typically use a wide range of transport options – planes, ships, trains and trucks - they are interested in improvements that affect the entire transport system.
So are we. This is why we need an integrated policy approach that combines all forms of transport in the most efficient, reliable and cleanest way possible. Of course, the supply chain has to remain safe and secure throughout, which has always been a priority in EU transport policy.
Europe’s large logistics providers already manage this very well – that’s why they’re world leaders. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t improve things and turn the many transport and service providers into a single interlinked logistics network for Europe.
Where the EU can help is to create an environment where transport companies and operators can run their business efficiently, so they can continue growing and keep Europe globally competitive.
But as ever, it’s never that simple.
For most operators, that kind of environment is still a long way off.
We know this because we asked for views from across the logistics industry. This yielded a long list of your concerns, particularly on internal market barriers and bottlenecks.
Too much administration, too many missing links in the transport network, technical incompatibilities, thousands of different national rules and standards.
There are also IT issues, problems with career development, training and recruitment, innovation and environmental standards.
This brings me to the main reason for holding today’s conference: to push the debate to a wider public, to discuss answers and approaches to these areas.
If we do not manage to remove the barriers, European logistics and freight transport companies risk losing their market shares. Today, our transport infrastructure is increasingly congested. More attractive and flexible alternatives are appearing elsewhere.
In global transport, I see a great deal of rising competition and a shifting focus in infrastructure, towards Asia in particular.
While Europe is still very competitive in global logistics, it would be dangerous to become complacent. We need to do more than just keep up with our rivals.
For some time, we have talked about the need for a solid European policy for freight transport and logistics.
This began, if you recall, with the Freight Transport Logistics Action Plan in 2007.
I believe there is now an urgent need for us to move forward with a longer-term European logistics policy, to identify and tackle cross-border and cross-sector problem areas. We need to set specific priorities for the future.
So what is being done to tackle these problems - and where can we do more?
With recent agreements on new regulations for the Trans-European Transport Network and the Connecting Europe Facility, we are changing Europe’s approach to transport infrastructure. This is a pivotal moment for European transport, because we can now start to map out its future – concretely.
Our first task is to remove all residual barriers between the different forms of transport and the EU’s different national systems.
It goes hand-in-hand with completing the TEN-T, improving and expanding the existing system – while making sure that its infrastructure is used properly and to its full potential.
This is how we can obtain the scale efficiencies of a true single European transport area. It will be underpinned by a network of integrated corridors that allow large volumes of freight to be moved over long distances.
They will use advanced intelligent technologies to achieve energy efficiency and reduce environmental impact.
When the corridors are built, they will bring enormous benefits to the logistics industry. Better links to ports, air cargo terminals, urban freight hubs and trans-shipment centres, to name a few.
Of course, improving the door-to-door logistics chain requires better use to be made of each transport sector - separately and combined.
Rail is a good example, as freight’s obvious choice as a clean alternative to road.
The same corridor concept applies. Nine international rail freight corridors are being developed which we hope will form the backbone of Europe's long-distance land freight transport system.
There can be large gaps between the service required by today's freight and logistics industry and the quality of service provided by European railways. Reliability, rather than speed – the ability to meet loading, departure, arrival and unloading times – is the key to modern cargo distribution.
This is the only way to provide safe and efficient onward transport planning, to reduce cost and emissions.
We can find similar problems in the maritime and air freight sectors. This is why the Commission has presented ambitious plans to streamline operations and performance in European railways, ports and airports.
While each of these plans is sector-specific in its details, there are some common objectives:
- to reduce congestion;
- stay safe;
- make the best and cleanest use of capacity, and
- to promote competition in open and fair markets.
As always, the watchword throughout is - efficiency.
Earlier, I mentioned IT and advanced technologies.
These can really help to improve freight transport management and journey planning by smoothing the information flow along the logistics chain.
Logistics will rely increasingly on all parts and people in the supply chain to work together and use information efficiently. To encourage and support this, the Commission is working to develop e-Freight to smooth the information flow.
That doesn’t just mean information about traffic but also details of infrastructure, administrative and cargo-related data such as its condition and location. It should be accessible for use by the relevant parties involved along the supply chain, while safeguarding commercial and data protection interests.
The Commission is now working on a strategy to outline our wider vision for e-Freight and propose some concrete steps forward.
Our aim is also to build on what is already being achieved in the maritime sector - SafeSeaNet and eMaritime - with national maritime single windows.
The next logical step would be to create a national single window for all reporting requirements, regardless of the form of transport.
We also agreed to develop an “eManifest” that would reduce customs procedures, for maritime cargo to start with.
Urban logistics offers opportunities for raising efficiency and reducing transport’s carbon footprint. Delivering and collecting goods in urban areas poses many challenges, not least the need to minimise environmental impact.
We promote alternative energy sources and propulsion systems through research programmes and support projects to deploy more low- and zero-emission vehicles in towns and cities.
There are many other areas where we can work together to reinforce Europe’s status as a globally competitive logistics leader.
That means both for now and the future, as industry trains the replacements for today’s ageing workforce. It could develop and align standards for staff qualifications that apply across all forms of logistics transport, for example.
Another area is the environment, where we have already discussed developing an EU-wide standard for carbon footprint and certification to improve comparisons between different freight transport services.
These are just two areas where the EU does not need to act - but where it could help to support and coordinate the alignment of standards. Industry could also agree to self-regulate in applying those standards, and thereby make itself a global benchmark in logistics excellence.
Ladies and gentlemen: what happens next?
With so many “pieces of the logistics puzzle” represented here today, this conference is an excellent opportunity to hammer out specifics of how European logistics should develop in the years ahead.
The best ideas should be incorporated into a strategy paper early next year, with concrete steps forward for further discussion and consultation.
It will be a follow-up to the 2007 plan – but much more than that. It will provide the basis for a longer-term policy vision for freight transport and logistics.
For a long time, we have talked in general terms about the future of the sector.
It’s now time to talk concretely about what we want to achieve and how to go about doing it.
This conference is the starting point for us – together - to map out the way forward for this vital industry.
Thank you for your attention.
First step of the Blue Belt initiative
5 November 2013
The European Commission adopted on 5th November 2013 a modification to the Implementing Regulation of the Customs Code in other to facilitate the Regular Shipping Service (RSS) scheme. This measure constitutes the first step of the Blue Belt initiative that the European Commission launched this Summer.
Territorial waters are considered as the EU's external borders. So technically, vessels travelling between EU ports are leaving the EU Customs Territory. As a result, customs clearance is required when the vessel leaves the port of departure and again when the vessel arrives at the port of destination unless the vessel is travelling under a Regular Shipping Service scheme.
Union goods carried onboard ships with a status of Regular Shipping Service maintain their Union status when leaving a Member State's port for discharge at another Member State's port. The status is granted by customs to a shipping company that has made a specific application for it and it is restricted to ships that operate solely between ports located in EU Member States.
With the adopted modification, the Regular Shipping Service status will become more attractive. Firstly, the consultation period following an application will be reduced from 45 to 15 days. Secondly, shipping companies will have the possibility to add from the beginning also potential future Member States' ports to the list of ports to be served by a Regular Shipping Service.
The new Regular Shipping Service scheme will be applied as of 1st March 2014.
The European Commission adopted on 8th July 2013 a Communication , creating a policy framework for the future “Blue Belt” environment. In the Blue Belt area, ships will be able to operate freely with a minimum of administrative formalities to fulfil. The proposed approach is twofold:
- On the one hand, looking at the purely intra-EU movements of vessels (currently limited to 10-20% of traffic, realized through Regular Shipping Services, and not attractive to containerized traffic) through further simplification of the Regular Shipping Service scheme in the Customs legislation by shortening deadlines for the application procedure and making the procedure for adding new Member States to the service more flexible.
- On the other hand, looking at vessels carrying both EU and non-EU goods and calling also at non-EU ports, where a so-called eManifest, an electronic harmonised cargo document would allow for facilitation and speeding up of customs procedures for EU cargo by enabling customs to distinguish between Union and non-Union goods. Currently, all goods arriving in EU ports are considered to be non-Union goods, even if they come from a previous EU port without having called in a 3rd country port. An implementing act is prepared for the end of year 2013. Discussions with maritime and customs authorities as well as representatives from the maritime sector on the development and implementation are currently taking place. The eManifest should be ready to be applied as of June 2015 to coincide with the establishment of the National Single Windows as foreseen in the Reporting Formalities Directive.
The EU is highly dependent on maritime transport for its trade with the rest of the world and within the internal market. Nevertheless, shipping is not used to its full potential mainly due to administrative burden, especially in the field of customs. Indeed, even though administrative simplified procedures for maritime transport have already been introduced by EU legislation, vessels travelling between EU ports still encounter a significant number of complex procedures. These procedures involve costs and delays that can make maritime transport less attractive for the transport of goods in the EU internal market.
The Blue Belt is a concept according to which ships can operate freely within the EU internal market with a minimum of administrative burden and in which safety, environmental protection as well as customs and tax revenues are ensured by an optimal use of existing capabilities to monitor maritime transport and the cargo concerned.
Key action 2 of the Commission Communication on Single Market Act II " calls for the establishment of a true single market for maritime transport by no longer subjecting EU goods transported between EU seaports to administrative and customs formalities that apply to goods arriving from overseas ports.