The year 2022 will mark the entry into force of several key measures of the “Mobility Package”, which establishes a new regulatory framework for road freight transport in Europe. Carriers are preparing for its implementation.
In 2017 and 2018, the European Commission presented 3 initiatives aimed at improving the efficiency of road transport in Europe, as well as the social and operational conditions in which this activity is carried out. This body of legislation is known as the “Mobility Package”. It provides for a series of measures which will substantially modify the legal framework and the governance of road transport in Europe.
Its implementation began on August 20th, 2020, with the application of the reform of driving and rest times. It introduces the ban on weekly rest in the cab and also requires the carrier to organise work schedules so that its drivers can return home or to the operational center to which they are attached every 4 weeks. In 2022, other major provisions of the Mobility Package 1 will come into force.
Concern among professionals
Although foreseeable, the deployment of these new provisions worries transport professionals, in particular in countries where carriers carry out a significant part of their activity internationally. On the one hand, they are still awaiting clarification on the application and interpretation of these new texts. On the other, the operational and economic impact is causing concern.
Some professional federations are already starting to sound the alert, such as the Belgian federation Febetra. In a message posted on Twitter on December 29th, its director points to a risk of chaos in relation to the manual recording of border crossings, which becomes mandatory on February 2nd, 2022, pending the new version of the smart tachograph which should allow automatic registration from 2023.
The concern is also of an economic nature, in particular for Eastern European carriers which are very active in Western European markets. Several provisions of the Mobility Package will in fact significantly increase their operating costs. The latest revision of the European Posting of Workers Directive requires in particular that posted workers benefit from the same rules in terms of remuneration as local workers.
Admittedly, the legislator has made specific provisions for road transport, where the workforce is by definition mobile, via Directive 2020/1057 of July 15th, 2020.These rules, which specify in particular the scope of postings and provide details on the administrative requirements and control measures, will apply from February 2, 2022. The fact remains that these new provisions will increase wage costs. According to the professional organisation TLP (Transport Logistyka Polska), which has requested a support plan from the Polish government to enable the sector to turn the corner, the increase would range between 20% and 40% for Polish road transport companies, according to the type of transport carried out and the current organisation of work.
Several provisions of regulation 2020/1055 of July 15, 2020 relating to access to the market and the profession will also weigh on costs. This is the case with the compulsory return of vehicles to their operational base every 8 weeks. This measure will come into force on February 21st, 2022. The carriers from the East are not the only ones to deplore it as last October, TLN, the Dutch federation of transport and logistics, asked for it to be postponed.
Regarding cabotage, the limit of 3 operations over 7 days remains unchanged. But the introduction of a 4-day waiting period between two operations, also from February 21st, equally changes the situation in terms of the profitability of travel ... provided it is controlled. Member States must have communicated their national control strategy to the Commission by August 21, 2022 at the latest.
Reorganisation of operations
Carriers have started to anticipate by reorganising their operations. The Lithuanian company Girteka has decided to expand its operations closer to Western Europe by setting up a second base in Poland. More than 2,000 trucks are already registered there. The company plans to employ 8,000 drivers at this base by the end of 2022, to which will be added around 450 technicians. This is Girteka's largest establishment, the company has declared its ambition to enter the Top 10 transport and logistics companies in Europe by 2026 by doubling its turnover (€ 996 million in 2020).
Their competitor Hegelmann, which reports a turnover of 700 M €, is following the same logic. It is investing in the construction of a service hub for road hauliers in Żarska Wieś, in southwestern Poland, near the German border. This service complex will primarily meet the needs of the Hegelmann Group, but not only. "We will use it to help small transport companies meet the demands of the mobility package", said Siegfried Hegelmann, manager of the Hegelmann group in a press release issued in July 2021 announcing the construction of the centre. Drivers returning from Western Europe will, for example, be able to spend their obligatory rest time there, since a hotel with more than 750 beds is planned. The center, slated to open in mid-2022, will also offer offices, a large parking space, a truck service area, and a spare parts and tyre warehouse.
Extension to LCVs
The new European regulations aim to improve the working conditions of drivers and to establish more equitable commercial conditions for all European carriers. With this in mind, the European Commission has also taken into account the rise of light commercial vehicles in the transport of goods.
As from May 21st, 2022, operators of light commercial vehicles over 2.5t will be subject to rules governing access to the profession, even if the requirements are lower than for operators of vehicles over 3.5t, especially in terms of financial capacity.
Impact on transport prices
The introduction of these new measures comes against a backdrop of driver shortages and inflationary pressures which are already weighing on the costs of road hauliers. “This Mobility Package will produce further capacity constraints and inflation”, said Luis Gomez, president of XPO Logistics Europe, in an interview with the Financial Times last September.
This increase in costs should have repercussions on transport prices. The trend was already noticeable in 2021, as the latest Ti / Upply study on European road freight rates showed.