COMMISSION BREAKS SILENCE ON FRENCH WEEKLY REST FINES
Has opened an enquiry with French authorities.
This week, Dutch MEP Peter van Dalen finally received a response to parliamentary questions submitted on the controversial new weekly rest rules in France.
With drivers facing fines of up to €30,000 and one year in prison, the new rules – intended to combat ‘social dumping’ – have caused a stir in the international transport industry.
To sum up, the Commission confirms that, according to EU law, drivers are able to spend weekly rest periods in vehicles. It also says an enquiry has been opened with the French authorities to ensure drivers’ hours penalties are ‘effective, proportionate, dissuasive and non-discriminatory’.
On ‘social dumping’ it seems to suggest that mobile worker rules could be reviewed.
Q1: This week, France has banned truck-drivers from spending their normal weekly rest periods in their vehicles, even if the vehicle is equipped with proper sleeping facilities, on pain of a fine of up to €30,000 and one year’s imprisonment.
Does the Commission consider that, on the basis of Article 8(8) of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006, it is permitted to spend the normal weekly rest period in the vehicle if the vehicle has proper sleeping facilities and is at rest?
A1. Article 8(8) of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 provides that drivers may choose to spend their daily rest periods and reduced weekly rest periods away from base in the vehicle, as long as this vehicle has suitable sleeping facilities and is stationary.
The regulation does not establish where the driver is to spend the regular weekly rest. However, considering that the latter is defined as a ‘period during which a driver may freely dispose of his time’, a driver should have a possibility, should he/she so choose, to spend the regular weekly rest at the home base or somewhere else, and not in the vehicle.
Q2: Does the Commission consider a fine of €30,000 and a one-year prison sentence to be effective, proportionate and deterrent as a penalty for spending the normal weekly rest period in the vehicle?
A2. In accordance with Article 19(1) of the regulation, Member States must ensure that the penalties set for infringements to this regulation are effective, proportionate, dissuasive and non-discriminatory. The Commission has opened an enquiry with the French authorities to determine whether the newly adopted French penalties on the infringements to this regulation meet the abovementioned requirements.
Q3: Does the Commission agree that it is socially undesirable that drivers should spend successive daily and weekend rest periods in lorry parks abroad, far from their registered place of residence? How will the Commission deal with this development?
A3. The organisation of drivers’ working schedules must respect various requirements under Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 and Directive 2002/15/EC on the working time of mobile workers. The Commission works closely with Member States and stakeholders to ensure that both these acts are correctly and effectively implemented. It will also carry out an ex-post evaluation of their implementation to identify possible shortcomings. Sectoral social partners may also agree on certain provisions concerning working conditions and health and safety in the sector, for instance through a Social Code for Mobile Workers. Should the social partners decide to enter into dialogue on this subject, the Commission would support them.