With rising inflation and increasing economic and social changes, the transport sector is facing a lot of challenges. Its situation is also not helped by both numerous and key changes to road transport regulations related to the so-called Mobility Package. We have presented here below a summary of the most important changes in transport law in recent months.
The Mobility Package is a long-since announced reform of the regulations concerning road transport in the territory of the European Union, including Poland. What is important is that the Mobility Package is not a legal act. However, it has a significant impact on national and EU regulations, creating new rights and obligations for transport sector operators. The most important changes resulting from the implementation of the Mobility Package into Polish transport law include: new rules for recording drivers’ work time, regulations on tachographs, new rules on international transport with vehicles of total weight between 2.5 tonnes and 3.5 tonnes, and new rules on so-called cabotage transport.
Community Licence over 2.5 tonnes
The biggest revolution concerns carriers who manage vehicle fleets between over 2.5 tonnes to 3.5 tonnes. As of May 2022, they are obliged to meet requirements which to date concerned only carriers carrying out road transport with vehicles with a total weight of over 3.5 tonnes. The new catalogue of obligations includes the following, in particular:
obtaining a carrier permit for domestic transport (including the required professional qualifications);
demonstrating adequate financial capacity and meeting the so-called “good repute” requirement;
having a real and permanent seat in Poland.
In practice, as of 21 May 2022, operators that carry out international road transport of goods, whose total weight exceeds 2.5 tonnes, but does not exceed 3.5 tonnes, should hold a carrier permit for domestic transport, as well as a Community Licence. We would recall that it is not possible to obtain a Community Licence if the carrier does not first have a so-called “basic” permit for domestic transport.
However, the discussed changes do not apply to carriers who carry out exclusively domestic road transport of goods with vehicles or groups of vehicles of total weight up to 3.5 tonnes, for which the catalogue of classic haulage-related obligations remains unchanged.
What is more, a new financial requirement has been created for carriers who carry out transport with vehicles over 2.5 tonnes to 3.5 tonnes. If they have a fleet of vehicles of over 2.5 tonnes to 3.5 tonnes, they should have capital and reserves of a total amount of at least EUR 1800 for the first vehicle used, and EUR 900 for each additional vehicle used. However, if the carrier has in its vehicle fleet at least one vehicle that exceeds 3.5 tonnes, then the charge for the first vehicle remains unchanged (EUR 9000). In addition, each additional vehicle above 2.5 tonnes, but not exceeding 3.5 tonnes, should have security in the amount of EUR 900.
Finally, as of 1 June 2022, every vehicle submitted for the Community Licence should also be submitted for the carrier permit for domestic transport. This requirement also applies to vehicles above 2.5 tonnes to 3.5 tonnes, whose transport of goods is carried out exclusively in international transport.
Contact with the transport operator during a road inspection
The new regulations have granted drivers the right to phone the transport operator during a road inspection. While it is true that allowing telephone contact with the employer or transport manager the transport does not release the driver from the obligation to have a certified copy of the permit or licence, the driver’s card, record sheet, tachograph print-out, and the vehicle’s certificate while being on the road, it may nonetheless prove very helpful. This is because during the inspection the driver may obtain information, thanks to which he will be able to minimise potential fines for the employer, as well as save time lost as a result of the enforced stop.
Novelties in cabotage
The discussed Mobility Package has also been accompanied by changes for the so-called cabotage transport, i.e. the commercial transport of a cargo between collection points (unloading and loading) located in various countries of the European Union or EFTA, other than the one in which the carrier set up and now has a permanent seat for its transport operations.
Following the Mobility Package, since February 2022, a carrier cannot, amongst other things, perform cabotage transports with the same vehicle in a given Member State for four days from the end of the last permitted cabotage transport on its territory. Thus, after the last cabotage has ended, the vehicle must return to the country of its “base” seat and wait for four days before it can start another international trip. It is worth pointing out that the above “four-day freeze” period concerns only the vehicles and not the drivers, who will be able to perform cabotage with another vehicle without a compulsory break.
A further change in cabotage transports is the need for a carrier whose vehicle was located in the territory of another country to present clear proof confirming all the transports carried out during the four days preceding the international transport.
What other surprises does the Mobility Package have for us?
The is no doubt that the Mobility Package is one of the biggest reforms of the transport sector in recent years. This is ultimately to lead to a coherence in the regulation of transport in the EU provided by international carriers who will finally be travelling on EU roads on uniform or at least similar principles.
Some of these changes, like for example the change in the driver’s work time or the possibility for the driver to contact the employer or enterprise manager, could increase safety on the roads. Other changes, such as the new obligations for transport with vehicles of total weight over 2.5 tonnes – 3.5 tonnes, require organisational and legal changes. Hence, the sector should keep in mind the process of implementation of the Mobility Package in Poland, especially given that further changes are appearing on the horizon and are planned at least until 2026.