EU To Relax Drivers’ Hours? – Rally East Estonia

The European Commission considers relaxing truck Drivers’ Hours rules in exceptional circumstances. 

The FIA is not happy about MEP vote on road tolls. The European Rally Championship shines a light on south east Estonia. DFDS will not take up the offer from strikers of two sailings per day Dover-Calais.

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EU TO RELAX DRIVERS’ HOURS?

Commission mulling changes to help truck drivers stuck in ‘exceptional circumstances’.

EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc (centre, left)meets with MEP Dennis de Jong (centre, right) and representatives of the

EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc (centre, left) meets with MEP Dennis de Jong (centre, right) and representatives of truck unions in Brussels, 7 July 2015. Photo Jelle Boonstra, @TLN_Beleid

The European Commission is considering relaxing Drivers’ Hours rules during ‘exceptional circumstances’.

An authoritative source in Brussels told @DriveEurope today the Commission is looking at the changes to help drivers stuck in situations like the recent blockade at Calais.

However, any changes will be ‘assessed and balanced against other considerations’ and there is no mention of how long it could take to put into practice.

Drivers’ Hours restrictions made life difficult all round during the blockade. Drivers stuck in slow moving queues had no choice but to pull over at the side of the road when they ran out of time, thus adding to the chaos on the road.

The weekend before last, after waiting in Operation Stack for 7.5 hours, @Geordie_Driver was on the verge of running out of hours after his Channel crossing.

Luckily he managed to find a secure parking space on the A26. The alternative would have been parking in the vicinity of Calais, at the mercy of migrant gangs.

The Commission’s rethink follows a meeting last week between Dutch transport unions FNV, TLN and MEP Denis de Jong with Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc.

She was presented with a seven point wish list (see here in English) of which ‘temporary relaxation of enforcement obligations’ was item four.

The Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) made a similar call on the Irish government last week.

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Rally Estonia. More later. Photo @FIA.

The European Rally Championship visits south east Estonia this weekend. Centered around the cities of Tartu and Elva, the three day event is almost all on forest gravel stages. Having visited western Estonia, along the coast on Via Baltica, we’re keen to check out the rest of the country, especially this part near the vast Lake Pskov on the Russian border. As usual @DestinationEU beat us to it. Check out what she made of Estonia’s famous manor house hotels, and ‘quirky’ Tartu. Photo @FIA.

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roundup: ROAD TOLLS. MEPs on the Transport and Tourism Committee yesterday approved a self-generated progress report on the EU’s 2011 Transport White Paper. In doing so they called for the Commission to develop a framework for road tolls reports @DaveKeating. While the FIA – Federation Internationale de l’Automobile – broadly welcomed the vote as ‘placing road users at the heart of transport policy’ – and the move towards ‘post-licence training for drivers’ – on road tolls it says, ‘Priority 10, calls for a road charging scheme where the ‘user pays’ or ‘polluter pays’, however there are no clear methods on how this can be calculated nor any method to include the amount that drivers are already paying in vehicle-related taxes.’ The FIA also criticises the EU target to remove all conventionally fuelled cars from city centres by 2050. The MEP’s vote is not binding on the Commission but a new strategy on road tolls may well be included in a new ‘Road Package’ due next year. CALAIS STRIKE. It seems DFDS will not be taking up an offer to allow their ferries to dock in Calais once every twelve hours (see update below). As predicted, following their meeting with the French minister of transport on Monday, the strikers made this ‘concession’ this afternoon. Union leader Eric Vercoutre told La Voix du Nord, ‘This is not a concession to DFDS we are doing today is a concession to the government.’ However, an industry insider tells us two sailings per day would be impractical. In response, DFDS simply said, ‘Currently our services are still suspended until [at least] 17 July.’ Update 16 July: DFDS tell us this afternoon, ‘We will not be operating our service into Calais until we are able to operate a full service with clear access.’

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