BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission on Wednesday proposed limits on the number of days that foreign truck drivers can cross the bloc on lower wages, responding to pressure from richer EU countries.
Hauliers from France and Germany and other higher-earning states had complained that competitors from Eastern Europe were undercutting them by sending drivers into their territories with much smaller pay packets.
Under the new rules, foreign drivers would be considered a “posted worker” - potentially meaning they would get at least the minimum wage of the country they were in - if they spent three days or more per month working away from home.
Newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron urged the Commission last week to do more to curb an influx of low-paid east Europeans working on temporary assignments in France, warning that it was sapping support for the EU.
Eastern European countries have complained that restrictions on their drivers are protectionist.
But haulage companies in higher-wage countries complain that truck businesses from eastern Europe have taken an unfair share of the trans-European road freight market.
The proposals are part of an overhaul of mobility and transport in Europe that will also include new rules on road tolls and a push for digitalisation. A future batch of proposals will focus on emission standards.
“Right now it’s a mess,” said Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc. “We are more and more connected and dependent on each other. Hauliers are a very important part of logistics and need to have clear rules.”
Under the commission’s proposals, foreign truckers would also be allowed to carry out deliveries outside their home country for up to five days after they have made an international delivery. Currently, they are allowed to do three “cabotage” operations within seven days.
Truck drivers would have to take a regular weekly rest - of 45 hours after six days work - outside truck cabins.
Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Andrew Heavens