Select Committee on European Scrutiny Seventh Report


COM(00) 751

Draft Regulation amending Regulation (EEC) No. 881/92
on access to the market in the carriage of goods by road
within the Community to and from the territory of a
Member State or passing across the territory of one or
more Member States as regards a uniform Driver

Legal base: Article 71 EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
Document originated: 22 November 2000
Forwarded to the Council: 27 November 2000
Deposited in Parliament: 12 January 2001
Department: Environment, Transport and the Regions
Basis of consideration: EM of 17 January 2001
Previous Committee Report: None
To be discussed in Council: April 2001
Committee's assessment: Legally and politically important
Committee's decision: Not cleared; further information requested


  6.1  At present the employment of non-EU drivers by EU companies is governed by national law operating within the national territory. The ability of such drivers to drive heavy goods vehicles in EU Member States depends on their possession of the appropriate licences, which may be issued either in those States or in a third State which is party to a relevant international convention.[25] For example, a person not in possession of a Community driving licence[26] cannot lawfully drive a British-registered lorry in the UK unless he is otherwise permitted to drive here under a foreign or international licence by virtue of the Motor Vehicles (International Circulation) Order 1975 as amended.[27] The driving of a British-registered lorry in France by a non-EU citizen falls outside UK jurisdiction and French legislation may not apply. The converse also applies, i.e. the driving in the UK of a French-registered lorry by a non-EU citizen is not unlawful under UK law, provided the driver has the appropriate driving licence.

  6.2  Following a survey conducted by it in 1999, the European Commission considers that an increasing number of irregularly employed drivers, often from outside the Community, are used on Community-registered vehicles engaged in intra-Community transport, that these drivers receive low, black market wages and that their working conditions are outside Member States' control. The Commission concludes that in general Member States find that the use of such drivers in Community vehicles poses a serious problem and are concerned about the distorting effects of this on the transport market.

The proposal

  6.3  In a series of amendments to Council Regulation (EEC) No 881/92,[28] the Commission proposes the creation of a new document, a driver attestation, certifying that the driver is legally entitled to drive the goods vehicle in the Member State in which the haulier (the employer) is established. Each haulier licensed to carry out international road haulage within the Community would need to have such an attestation for each driver it employs in intra-Community transport. Attestations would be issued by the competent authority in the relevant Member State. When a driver changes employer, the new employer would need to obtain a fresh attestation on his behalf. Owner-drivers would be exempted, as would those engaged solely in national transport operations. The proposal would give Member States powers to apply appropriate sanctions for infringements.

The Government's view

  6.4  In his Explanatory Memorandum of 17 January 2001, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty) says that the Government supports the aim of the proposal. He states, however, that a person not in possession of a Community Driving Licence cannot legally drive a British-registered lorry in this country. He concludes from this that the Department would " never issue an attestation to a non-EU driver". The Parliamentary Under-Secretary notes that the consequence of the proposal for the UK would be that attestations would be required for all UK drivers involved in intra-Community operations. He says that, in discussion at the Transport Council in December 2000, the UK and a number of other Member States sought to limit the new attestation scheme to non-EU drivers only. The Commission had advised that such a limitation would discriminate unfairly against nationals from third countries. It appears that this view was refuted by the Council Legal Service on the grounds that the attestation did not relate to conditions of employment but merely verified that the employment was in accordance with national legislation. The Transport Council reached a preliminary conclusion that EU nationals should be excluded from the scope of the proposal. The Minister says that, provided this conclusion is incorporated into any proposed legislation, the Government could, in principle, support the measure. He tells us that the Presidency has indicated that it will seek a Common Position on the proposal at the Transport Council in April.


  6.5  It is far from clear what objective is sought by this proposal. It is said to address a serious safety problem as well as a serious distortion of competition. Its effect appears to be to reserve jobs for European Union nationals to the detriment of third-country nationals lawfully resident in a Member State, which appears to be inconsistent with the conclusions of the Tampere European Council on the integration of third-country nationals lawfully resident in the European Union.

  6.6  The proposal as it stands appears to be burdensome. We are told that, in the United Kingdom, it would lead to thousands of attestations being issued in respect of United Kingdom drivers, unless the scheme were limited to non-European Union drivers. On the other hand, if the scheme is limited to non-European Union drivers, it could act to the detriment of third-country nationals lawfully resident in an European Union Member State and permitted to drive in European Union and European Economic Area Member States by virtue of international conventions to which those countries are party.

  6.7  We do not consider that the reasons for the proposal or its context have been sufficiently explained. We invite the Parliamentary Under-Secretary to explain more clearly the effect of the proposal on foreign drivers holding a convention permit, or who are otherwise permitted to drive in this country under international conventions, and to explain the basis for the view taken by his Department that it would never issue an attestation to a non-European Union driver.

  6.8  In the meantime, we shall not clear the document.


25   For the UK see the conventions listed in the Explanatory Notes to the Motor Vehicles (International Circulation) Order 1975 (S.I., 1975, No. 1208) and the Motor Vehicles (International Circulation) (Amendment) Order 1989 (S.I., 1989, No. 993). Back

26  'Community driving licence' is defined in the Road Traffic Act 1988, s.108, as a licence, not being an international licence, issued by an EEA Member State. Back

27   S.I., 1975, No. 1208, as amended by S.I., 1989, No. 933 and S.I., 1991, No. 771. Back

28   OJ No. L 95, 9.4.92, p.1.  Back

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