Question asked by Carlo Fidanza (PPE)
Subject: Unfair competition against Italian road hauliers
Over the last few days, all of the road haulage organisations in Italy have been preparing for an extraordinary suspension of their transport services, which will begin on 9 December and could last until 16 December.
In 2008, more than 22 000 heavy goods vehicles were registered in the Italian road haulage sector over the course of one year, whereas today the figure is only 9 500. Three quarters of the 98 000 companies have fewer than four lorries, and Italian road haulage companies face the most expensive and highest taxed petrol in Europe. Added to this, they have to deal with the illegal cabotage practised by hauliers from Eastern Europe, where fuel and labour costs are between 30 and 40 % lower.
Although, on the one hand, the issue of fuel costs is the responsibility of the individual Member States, a more even labour market should be an objective of the single market.
What action will the Commission take with regard to this serious and unacceptable instance of unfair competition?
Read the answer
Answer given by Mr Kallas on behalf of the Commission
(24 January 2014)
The road haulage sector faces a severe economic downturn as a result of the economic crisis. As of 2012, transport volumes remain 12% below pre-crisis levels of 2007. A drop in the number of vehicle registrations can be attributed to this development.
There is no clear evidence that cabotage, nor alleged illegal practices connected to it, has a significant impact on market developments. Cabotage remains limited to a marginal share (2%) of all transport volumes and enforcement of the relevant EU legislation is under the responsibility of Member States. In the Member States where thorough checks have been carried out, infringements to cabotage rules are very limited. An analysis of available information for Italy shows that between January and October 2012, infringements levied for violation of international road transport rules (which includes cabotage infringements) were less than 0.1% of total inspections (205 infringements issued following 220,965 roadside checks) .
Although costs vary between Member States, this gap has been narrowing. EU legislation exists that contributes to aligning the working conditions of drivers carrying out domestic transport outside of their Member State of registration with those of their local counterparts . In addition, hauliers carrying out international transport usually purchase petrol in the Member State of operation. However, it should be noted that neither salary-setting nor determination of fuel forecourt prices are a competence of the European Union.
In line with Regulation (EC) No 1072/2009, the Commission will issue a report on the situation of the EU road haulage market shortly. This report will address amongst others the issue of cost structures in the sector.