Select Committee on European Scrutiny Third Report


COM(01) 373

Amended proposal for a 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 Attestation.

Legal base: Article 71 EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
Document originated: 5 July 2001
Forwarded to the Council: 5 July 2001
Deposited in Parliament: 23 July 2001
Department: Transport, Local Government and the Regions
Basis of consideration: EM of 9 October 2001
Previous Committee Report: None; but see (21951) 13905/00: HC 28-vii (2000-01), paragraph 6 (28 February 2001), HC 28-x (2000-01), paragraph 3 (28 March 2001) and HC 28-xiii (2000-01), paragraph 8 (2 May 2001)
To be discussed in Council: November 2001
Committee's assessment: Legally and politically important
Committee's decision: Cleared


7.1  The previous Committee considered the proposed Regulation on a uniform driver attestation on 28 February and again on 28 March, when it asked the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty) to address its concern that the effect of the proposal appeared to be to reserve jobs for European Union nationals to the detriment of third-country nationals lawfully resident in a Member State. This appeared to the previous Committee to be inconsistent with the conclusions of the Tampere European Council on the integration of third-country nationals lawfully resident in the European Union.

7.2  On 2 May the previous Committee considered that the reply which had been received from the Minister showed that a third-country national who was entitled to drive a British-registered heavy goods vehicle and who was entitled to work in this country would need to seek a driver attestation, whereas a national of a Member State would not. It accordingly maintained its view that the proposal was incompatible with the conclusions of the Tampere European Council, because it would discriminate against third-country nationals lawfully resident in an EU Member State on grounds of nationality. The Committee had reservations on the substance of the proposal, but cleared it with reluctance.

7.3  The European Parliament gave its opinion on 16 May and has made a number of amendments, the most significant of which was to make the proposal applicable to non-EU drivers for the first two years, but then to apply the attestation scheme to EU and non-EU drivers alike.

The amended proposal

7.4  The Commission has accepted the substance of the amendment proposed by the European Parliament. In the amended proposal, the Regulation would take effect six months after adoption in relation to drivers who are not nationals of Member States, but would then apply to all drivers irrespective of their nationality two years thereafter. The Commission explains its reasoning as follows:

          "Amendment 6 limits the scope of the Regulation to nationals of non-member states for the first two years of its application, and thereby gives Member States additional time to prepare their administrations for the extensive administrative work connected to the issuing of the attestations to all drivers engaged in intra community road transport. However, the Commission finds it necessary to wait 6 months from the entering into force of the Regulation before its application. The Member States will need this time to prepare the measures necessary for the implementation of the Regulation even if the scope of the Regulation is limited to nationals of non-member states for the first two years of its application."


    The Government's views

7.5  In his Explanatory Memorandum of 9 October 2001, the Minister of State at the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (Mr John Spellar) describes the history of the proposal as follows:

    "The proposal seeks to combat the use by some EU haulage firms of illegally employed non-EU nationals for intra-Community transport operations, commonly referred to as "social dumping". These drivers are effectively employed on the black market, they receive low wages and their employment conditions are outside Member States' control. Following a year-long investigation, which included consultation with Member States and the haulage industry, the Commission concluded that this practice distorts competition in the EU single market and justifies Community legislation.

    "The Commission's original proposal envisaged the creation of a uniform document, a driver attestation. This document will certify that the driver of a vehicle engaged in international haulage is legally entitled, in accordance with the relevant national provisions of the Member State of establishment, to drive that vehicle in that Member State i.e. that the driver is legally employed. The document would be issued to any haulier licensed to carry out international road haulage within the Community. The attestation would be job-specific; every time a driver changed job his new employer (the haulier) would have to obtain a new attestation on his behalf from the competent authority (i.e. the Transport Ministry) in that Member State.

    "It was proposed that the requirement to carry an attestation would apply to all drivers, EU and non-EU alike. The Council of Ministers rejected the suggestion that legally employed EU drivers should be required to carry an attestation on the grounds that the scheme had been conceived to combat the illegal employment of drivers from non-EU states. Applying the scheme to the very EU hauliers who were having to deal with the consequences of social dumping was contrary to the proposal's core objective. Consequently, on 5 April 2001, the Council of Ministers reached political agreement on an amended proposal which would restrict the scope of the attestation to non-EU drivers only."

7.6  The Minister further explains that he has consulted the UK Freight Transport Association and the Road Haulage Association. The Minister reports that they are supportive, in principle, of a measure that would prevent any distortion of competition but that both Associations are opposed to UK and EU drivers being included in the scope of the Regulation.

7.7  On the policy implications of the amended proposal, the Minister comments

    as follows:

          "The problem which this proposal is seeking to address is social dumping by non-EU drivers. The UK does not agree that EU drivers should be included within the scope of the scheme. The UK supports the amended proposal (limiting its application to non-EU drivers only) on which the Council of Ministers reached political agreement on 5 April 2001."



7.8  We share the view expressed by the previous Committee that the proposal will act to the detriment of third-country nationals lawfully resident in a Member State. Unless the proposal is amended in accordance with the European Parliament's opinion, and as proposed by the Commission, a third-country national who is entitled to drive a British-registered heavy goods vehicle and is entitled to work in this country will need to seek an attestation, whereas a European Union national will not. This would place a new burden on the employers of such third country nationals by reason only of the nationality of their employees, and we repeat our view that this is incompatible with the conclusions of the Tampere European Council on the fair treatment of third country nationals.


7.9  As did the previous Committee, we continue to find the arguments that this proposal deals with 'social dumping' difficult to follow. The only fact which the attestation certifies is that the driver is entitled to drive a vehicle engaged in the international carriage of goods by road. It makes no statement about his terms and conditions of employment.

7.10  As the amended proposal addresses the concern the previous Committee expressed over discrimination on grounds of nationality, we are content to clear the document.

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Prepared 12 November 2001