2020.02.07 10:16

Lithuania prepare to challenge EU's Mobility Package in court

BNS 2020.02.07 10:16

Lithuania and several other countries from Central and Eastern Europe are considering to challenge the EU's proposed Mobility Package in the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

A controversial part in the Mobility Package requires that trucks return to their country of registration at least every eight weeks.

Read more: Lithuania introduces ‘exit tax’ as haulage firms threaten to move business to Poland

Lithuania's Transport Minister Jaroslav Narkevič has confirmed to BNS that the government is preparing to lodge the complaint with the CJEU.

“We are not only seriously considering this option, but have already started preparatory work and we are looking into the scope of our complaint,” the minister said in a comment sent to BNS.

“I believe that the court's clarification will help defend the interests of Lithuania and our haulers. It will also be beneficial for whole Europe as the provisions of the Mobility Package not only violate the principles of the common market, but also run against the major environmental ambition.”

Most EU member states backed the Mobility Package, which will introduce restrictions on hauler companies, back in December. A vote is still due in the European Parliament.

The vote date has not been set yet and it should take place “no earlier than May,” according to BNS sources in the European Parliament.

Read more: EU mobility package 'not in Lithuania's interests' despite compromise

Simonas Šatūnas, a deputy of Lithuania's permanent representative to the EU, says the final decision whether to go to court will probably be made after the EP vote.

“Yes, there are active discussions on that in Brussels. Final collective decisions will probably be made after the European Parliament finally adopts this package,” he said.

BNS sources say another eight countries also oppose the new rules: Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Cyprus and Malta. The number, however, is insufficient to block the Mobility Package.

Businesses and governments of Lithuania and other peripheral countries say Western European haulers want to push them out of the market with the new rules. Critics also argue that the mandatory return of trucks will increase road pollution and impede fight against climate change.

The authors of the new rules, however, say the mandatory return of trucks will help fight the registration of fake transport companies, when businesses are registered in one country to reduce costs, while activities are done elsewhere.

Western Europeans say the new rules are aimed at preventing unfair competition with cheap labour force from Eastern Europe and lower taxes, and it will also improve working conditions for the drivers.

Once the new rules come into force, member states will have 18 months to transpose them into national law.

The European Commission should also carry out an environmental impact assessment.

“We are grateful to the European Commission for hearing our concerns, as it promised in December, to assess the impact of the requirement to return trucks on the functioning of the EU internal market,” Šatūnas said.

Lithuania's national road carriers' association, LINAVA, argues that the country's transport sector will incur huge losses that will mostly affect small enterprises. LINAVA also claims that almost 35,000 jobs are on the line.